October 3, 1872
I write this as the leaves change outside my window from green to brilliant red and orange and magenta. A gust of wind must have come up from out of nowhere, and a shower of leaves scattered across the brazen sky, making me smile.
I’m remembering the time we went to the ocean together for the first and only time, and how you laughed when I waded into its arms and a wave crashed against me and my hair became as soaked as my clothes. You pulled me close to you and I could smell your earthy, sweet scent as we kissed and another wave came upon us and this time we fell into the water, laughing, me on top of you and I remember the moment like it was yesterday because I never wanted it to end, me on you and the water wrapped around us and seagulls laughing above.
These past few years have been the best of my life and as I lay here I question why everything happened like it did, and as I write this I don’t know if I will live or if I will die, but I want you to know that I’m not mad at God because I did tell him, somewhat rudely at times, to decide my fate for me because it was too hard for me to do. Stay with you? Leave? I couldn’t pull myself away from you even though I tried, but I was stuck in a crushing current, and my heart was so entwined with yours that I didn’t know where I started and you began!
I’m thinking maybe God took me up on my request and gave me the disease…I don’t even want to write it…maybe He did it because I deserved it or maybe He did it because it was going to happen anyway, or maybe He did it to make me really appreciate everything around me. What it did was make me love you more, and sometimes it angers me because loving you more, I think, is quite impossible but then something happens and you endear yourself to me all the more and I find myself falling in love with you in ways I have never imagined. Sometimes I wonder if God Himself could not decide my fate, or yours, so he gave me this to work out and no, I’m not mad, because I know He loves me. I just don’t understand the whole thing, because I’m still waiting, still waiting for Him to decide what he’s going to do with me.
And in the meantime, I keep loving you.
I am certain I will love you past a million lifetimes.
But there is something I want to tell you. I’ve told you everything you’ve given me, right? I’ve told you how you gave me life and hope and how by loving me, you make my heart light and make me sing. Your love wraps me up in a soft, warm shawl and sometimes at night when I’m lying there in the middle of the night and nothing feels right, and I try to get comfortable, all I have to do is think of you and you loving me and this warmth surrounds me and I dissolve into your love, even if you are there and I am here.
But I still must tell you what you took from me.
You robbed me, really.
Do you want to know what you took from me?
Sorrow. You took away sorrow.
The first time I saw you get off your horse and walk into the store, I smiled. I was feeling sad about something or other, and I don’t even know what it was, because as soon as I saw you, you and those green eyes and the kindest smile, and how you took off your hat when you saw me…you took whatever sorrow I had away from me. I pretty much handed it to you and you took it and threw it out the window. Mostly, I don’t think you gave it back to me and you can’t, it’s not going to happen. Even with what I’m going through, whatever I’m going through, this sickness that has seemed to take camp inside me, there is no sorrow. You robbed me of sorrow.
You robbed me of self-doubt, because you believed in me. I wanted to be a writer, and even though I was a girl you read my poems and told me, flat-out, it was the best you ever read and even…even if you were lying to me…you robbed me. Yanked it flat out of my hands and you did it enough times (over a hundred times, perhaps) that it finally sunk in and I let it go. I let self-doubt go and I never looked for it again.
Yes, you robbed me.
You robbed me by taking away my black, cold nights.
In its place, you set a candle, and lit it.
Robbery is something you do well.
My fears you stole.
Now, when it’s just me in the middle of the night I can look outside and I see the moon, shiny and wide and silver, like a plate, and I can’t remember fear any more. Yeah, I get scared sometimes, but Fear left me the day you kissed me for the first time and lifted me up on the back of your horse and we rode across the prairie, just the two of us. No fear. Only light.
You stole my sorrow.
The same day we rode across the prairie together for the first time, you tossed my sorrow into the wind by wrapping your arms around me and telling me I was the prettiest thing you ever saw, and you told me I smelled like a lily.
I didn’t know the value I put on fear or sorrow or self-doubt. I hadn’t realized the power I gave these things! And then you took them, and you didn’t give them back.
I love you because of what you stole from me, and what you left in its place:
Hope. Promises. Life.
You give wings to me, to us, and Love carries us over mountains and valleys.
Maybe I am feeling worse, maybe I’m not, but I don’t mean to talk in circles or to talk sense-lessly, but as I lay here looking at the leaves falling from the trees, I want you near me so badly it hurts. In a few hours, you will be walking through the door to tell me about your day, and to ask me about mine, and even though I’ve spent it here in bed I’ll weave you a tale and you’ll listen to me and you’ll fall asleep against my breasts as I caress your hair, and tell you I love you.
What I want is to see what God sees. I beg him sometimes…Let me know! Tell me, what will become of me, of him? What will become of us? The answer never comes, or if it does, it comes in the form of wind or leaves or rain, but I still do not know its answer. I know not the meaning of me, or you, of us.
So I will stay here until you come to me again.
I will keep watching the leaves as they fall into a kaleidoscope of colors, and pray that winter doesn’t come. But if winter does arrive, I’ll watch the snow and the red birds sitting on the fence, and I will pray for spring.
My Love, I can never thank you enough for taking away things I once worshipped, and giving, in its place, You.
I ask God, somewhat meekly, if you and I might take another trip to the ocean. I’m thinking He will tell me to be thankful for the first time, and to not beg for more, but He doesn’t say it.
God says, I am certain, that another trip to the ocean will happen and when I smile and look out the window, I see a brilliant leaf get tossed around until it lands on the other side of the windowsill.
It is held there on the narrow ledge, I believe, with the power of my mind and the hope of my spirit.
…your footsteps, and you come into my room and you hand me a red leaf. A perfect, red leaf.
I hold you tight, but it is really you holding me.
Love is the embrace that spans across a lifetime, even when two lovers have known only a few summers together. Love is what binds and ties and keeps Life flowing.
Love is circumstance, the chance happening of two souls caught in a whirlwind, in a tornado, and soon (whenever soon might be) the souls will land Somewhere.
I like to think we will land together in our own Somewhere, where there are crimson leaves, a playful ocean, and looking down on us: A single, golden moon.
We will, at last, be home.