Life Without Parole #3
It has been a while since I hand-wrote a letter. It has also been a while since I allowed myself to say your name out loud. John. John. John. I'm speaking it out as I write, by the way. Forgive me; it hasn't been easy since you left so unceremoniously. It wasn't your fault, I reckon. I can't blame the doctors either because I watched them give you their best. I can't blame myself because I know I poured everything I had into getting you better. Sometimes, I wonder if I should have had more faith, but then I remember that the God we serve doesn't seem to work that way. I had sacks and sacks filled with mustard seeds of faith; and really, all He says he needs is one.
A few months ago I went back to the place where you died, John. I started to cry even before I walked in. Passersby seemed to understand, because it's a hospital, you see. Lots of people cry in hospitals; out of joy, pain, or whatever. I say the word “whatever” a lot these days. I didn't really care about anything after you left; everything seemed meaningless, life unfair. Forgive me if bits of this letter seem disjointed. I have a lot to say and it's all tangled up in emotional bundles.
I remember the day we met like it was yesterday. You came over to visit with a mutual friend of ours and he introduced us. I never really took notice of you that day because, to be honest, I thought you were a little too round for my taste. It's funny how love changes our outlook on things. That day you said something that oozed of wisdom and instantly made me want to be your friend. I gave you my number and the next time you called just happened to be the day I was down with malaria. You rushed to my side with a watermelon – a watermelon, for Pete's sake. You stayed with me the entire time which amazed me. Being an orphan all my life, I had never really been that well taken care of by anyone. Thanks again, John.
We grew fond of each other after that. You invited me to different bible studies you were leading; I invited you to the cell I was hosting at my apartment. John, did I ever tell you how much I enjoyed listening to your input at every cell and bible study? To this day I have never met anyone as wise, as patient and willing to listen as you. Every time I think about you, I am amazed at how wonderful you were. You were that proverbial reflection of Jesus in my life. I am forever grateful to God for bringing you to me; or the other way around.
So, you took your brother, his wife and I out to dinner this one starry night. I loved it. The air was perfect that evening even though it had rained a few hours earlier. The sky was clear like it had just been washed by the rain. As the waiter brought the desserts and placed them on the table, he brought out a special plate just for me – a chocolate heart. You always knew chocolate was my weakness. As I “ooohed” and “aaahhed” at the plate, I saw you get down on one knee and take my left hand. My jaw instantly dropped. I saw you mumble something, but I couldn't exactly hear what you were saying what with all the blood rushing to my head. I thought to myself, this is it, Caroline. That was it.
I can't recall exactly what I said to you that night on account of the blood rushing and all. I remember asking myself what more I could want in a man, and in that moment, looking at you on one knee asking me to spend the rest of my life with you; I felt safe and loved, but above all, peace, that you were exactly what I needed. And so, Dear John, I said yes to you; you, the embodiment of my knight in shining armour. We were married in a few months. We were happy and I knew I couldn't have asked God for any better.
I regret the times we argued, John. I wished I had spent them loving on you instead. Sometimes I wonder if I would have wanted to know how much time we would have together. When you fell ill, John, I knew you were going to get better. I just knew it. We had prayer circles, all our friends, relatives, even the church came together to pray and help with the medical bills. I have never known such love, John. People we didn't know were calling me, encouraging me to stay strong for you. I received letters with thousands of currency and prayers attached to them. I received hugs the size of the Grand Canyon. It was overwhelming, my love. I don't know what I would have done without their support.
Sometimes, when you'd slip into a coma, I would just sit there and pretend you were asleep. I would talk to you and read to you. John, I wonder if you ever heard me those few times. I even decided on what we were going to name our children. I would put my face on your tummy and cry, John. I cried for an entire year lost in and out of hospital, for the pain that you felt, for the ache in my heart, for the times when I lost hope. I loved you deeper and more intensely then. You probably will never know, because you never woke up that last time. You slipped further and further away until it was only just the machines pumping your chest. I called out to you. I kept calling, John. Louder and louder I said your name but you wouldn't wake up. You weren't hearing me so I started to shake you and when you still wouldn't wake up, I screamed at the doctor to inject you with something, adrenalin, anything! She just stood there and I saw tears falling down her face. So I screamed, and I screamed, and I screamed, John. I screamed until my throat bled, I screamed until the nurses came and drugged me. I screamed because I was empty inside.
So you were gone that day, my love, and the next, and the next, until seven years later I have finally mustered the courage to write you this letter. I think I have finally arrived, John, a place where part of me no longer hopes to die so that I could be with you. I am learning to live in the present. I should know; you taught me that life is too short. I celebrate us. Somewhere along the way, I stopped blaming God. I see the beauty; I see it, John. It comforts me to believe that you are somewhere looking out for me. I know it is what you would be doing if you were still here. Maybe one day, I'll meet someone who will cause me to love again. I am hopeful.
Loving you still,