[COPYRIGHT © 2010 Vicky Claerbout]
LETTERS TO BE TOLD
It is Friday morning and Carl sits at the kitchen table, drinking his daily coffee while listening to the weather forecast on the radio. After placing the puzzle pages on his wife’s place, he starts to read the newspaper. He knows how much she liked to make those crossword puzzles before the start of her hectic day at work. Carl always used to laugh at how she never had trouble thinking of the most difficult words, while it was for the easy ones she couldn’t come up with the answers.
He misses her so much, even her complaints about his excessive coffee drinking.
Thinking back to all the days they spent happily together, the good days and the bad, a sad smile spreads upon his face. Even though she wasn’t here anymore, she still helped him through the rough days. It was his belief of her watching over him that kept him from giving up.
He misses her smile and the sound of her sweet laughter echoing throughout the entire house. The lack of sounds and delicious smells when he comes home from work each day makes him feel all alone and miserable.
Their son had been the only reason Carl made an effort each day to get out of bed. It was because of Michael that he tried to live his life as happy as he could possibly manage. The poor boy had lost his mother and the carefree childhood he deserved. Instead, Michael had had to deal with the loss of the person he believed would always be there for him.
His son was the one who kept Carl motivated to be alive. Year after year he did his utter best to be there for Michael, and in the end, it is what kept him on his feet.
As he recalls the past, when his Jacqueline was still there, he puts the newspaper aside and absentmindedly he begins to turn his wedding ring around and around. The ring means more to him than just a simple material sign of being married. The ring reminds him of the day he met his Jackie, the struggles they went through together, and how much in love they were. The ring is also a shining reminder of just how much he’s still in love; even if he’s the sole one left behind.
It gives him strength to know that she would’ve been strong, that his Jackie would’ve moved on. He knows she would’ve wanted him to keep himself together and live his life to the fullest, rather than feeling miserable in a corner until his day came, too.
Letting out a sigh, he gets up and walks to his desk in the other room. As he passes the picture of Jacqueline that hangs on the wall in the living room, he does what he always does. He kisses the tops of his fingers and then touches her smiling lips with them, whispering a quiet “I love you”.
He sits down in the chair in front of his desk. Taking in a deep breath, he tries to calm his nerves. Unaware of the fact that he’s doing it, he starts playing with his wedding ring again. As soon as he gathers the courage he needs, he opens the bottom drawer. The drawer is completely empty, except for one small, handmade wooden box. Simply seeing that box reminds him of his Jackie’s last days, and when on her final day she gave it to him. She made him promise to read all the letters on the date she wanted him to read them. It was with her final breaths that she had whispered “Read the letters,” and “I love you.”
During her last days his Jackie had been at home. Stubborn as he knew her to be, she didn’t want to stay in the hospital. She didn’t want to spend her last days surround by only sick people, or so she had explained to him.
The last days came too soon. She spent them writing, writing letters to him and Michael. That it had been fifteen years ago didn’t matter, he can still see her sitting at the living room table. Written letters and empty sheets of paper spread everywhere. He, nor Michael, were allowed to come anywhere near that table. It was off limits, as was trying to read over her shoulders. So focused on finishing those letters in time, Jackie sometimes even wrote throughout the entire night. Not wanting to lose a single second of the little time he had left with his Jackie, Carl spent those nights awake, too. He would sit on the couch, pretending to be reading a book or being busy for work, while in fact he was watching her every move. He tried to take in everything, all the little flaws and habits she possessed that made her special and unique. The smallest things that made him love her even more; these were the things that he wanted to have imprinted in his memory. After fourteen years of marriage, he knew her very well, but he was still afraid of not being able to remember her the way she was. Back then, they had known it for less than four months; she was going to die and not a lot more months would come.