Monday, February 13, 2012

Letter to a Ghost

Dear Sean,

So here we are again. Another year, another Valentine's Day Eve. It's hard to remember what this day felt like seven years ago, before my last fateful encounter with you. I remember knowing I would see you the next day, and feeling nervous and excited about what it would be like to see you again after four days. I never imagined I would see what I saw.

I wonder if you knew I would be the one to find you, and how you imagined that would be for me, if you thought about it at all. Did you know I would pound and pound on your window, begging you to rise from the dead? Even I couldn't imagine how long after that Valentine's Day, seven years ago, I would still be ripped from my sleep when the image of your dead body, lying next to that gun, your legs stiff with death, would pop into my head.

Maybe I seem a little angrier than I have been with you before, but I'm not. I've never really been angry at you. Some people would say that what you did was selfish, but they don't really know how much you felt like a burden, like a sinking ship pulling everyone else down with you. I've never doubted that you thought you were doing me and your parents a favor. I wish I could have told you that you were absolutely a handful, hard to get along with sometimes, and clearly spiraling out of control. But I still didn't want you to go. I sure didn't want you to go like you did.

There's still so much that has been left unsaid between us. There are so many unanswered questions. I guess I know now that we weren't meant to be together. I was meant to be with Ben today, and we were meant to have our son -- have you had a chance to meet Gabriel? I have often wondered about your soul, where it landed, and how much Purgatory time you got. I feel sometimes that I am serving my Purgatory time right now, between you and Gabriel and everything else going on. But I like to imagine that after all these years of praying, your soul has been set free. I won't stop praying, though.

I wonder how things would have been different for you if you could have met Gabriel before that day. How would it have changed you, to watch that little boy cling to this life until his very last breath? Would it have made you fight for your life, the way he fought for his? In a way, you both have inspired me so much to live. Though he fought for his life and you ended yours by choice, I have found in both of you an opportunity to grow. When I lost each of you, it could have broken me. Instead, I made a choice of my own to keep going. Losing you when I did, the way I did, prepared me for the greatest challeng of my life: Carrying and caring for my terminally ill son. You helped make me a person who can brave what seems nearly impossible.

But I wonder if when it comes to Ben, you broke me. Because to this day regret for all the things I didn't do to save you haunts me. And when I see Ben, and the things you two have in common -- from the John Wayne movies to the drinking -- I get scared. I can't lose him too. Nothing else that's been thrown my way has broken me beyond repair, but I have a paralyzing fear that losing my husband would. That fear, that desparate love, drives me to the point of irrationality sometimes -- I couldn't keep you. I couldn't keep my son, my beautiful boy who brought out the very best in me. I HAVE to keep Ben. I have to. I will not lose him too, and I beg you, if you have any clout up there, please find some way to help us.

Even if I have never forgiven myself, I forgave you instantly for leaving me like you did. I still smile when I hear your favorite songs. I still laugh at memories of you. Sometimes I can still see you, sitting in the bar in your same old seat. But it's such a different place now -- it's strange to think of how few people remember you. There are times when I still struggle to believe seven years have gone by, but when I think about all that has happened in those seven years and what a different person I am it feels like it must have been even longer. I'm a lawyer. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. And I might not ever know what went through your mind in those last days, hours, minutes. I might never know on this earth if you thought of me as you took your last breath and pulled that trigger. But I thank you, because in my heart I know that you were just trying not to pull me down too -- I wish you knew that it didn't have to be that way. Sean, it didn't have to be that way. Thank you for letting me go. I have Ben to hold, and he is hard to handle sometimes too. But I love him, and I'll hold him as best I know how. I don't want to let him go. I don't want him to go, too.


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