|I cannot tell you more than I did during my first interrogation about my motive for killing my husband. I did it on a beautiful morning, in a city of brilliant people. We first met in Paris; I was twenty, wearing a cotton skirt with brown and white checks, a hat with ribbons, a silk scarf. Yes, I remember exactly. It was in a restaurant. The following day we walked in the suburbs. In the afternoon we sided up with the Seine, spending the evening with the painters outside the Basilique Sacré-Coeur. We laughed and leaned close to one another for the next forty years. He promised me Rome, tennis shoes, children, and he said I would wear the ocean’s petticoat as my own. On our fortieth anniversary he explained he was leaving. A door slammed. A child was waving. I was being abandoned, passed over, swallowed up in practicalities. He was no longer a child. Reasons, he said.
I became more detached; a beggar wanting my life back, open to every road in any weather. He promised me that. I loved his brilliant moments of madness down forty years; I could go through them all again. I would fall again, and again into a heavy sleep on his Cimmerian shores. Our encounter was as perfect a sorrow as one could imagine. I had inherited his life, his romance, bore his children.
Of course, there was the whole life-and-death question now staring him in the face. He was only sixty years old for Christ’s sake. The nausea from the chemotherapy was a bear, but he suffered it with dignity and, okay, he had drugs to help, but somehow all of that was eclipsed by the selfish overpowering need he had for me to help him. I tried, you must trust me as if my hand were on the bible, but the outlaw Cancer kept coming, riding in on the wind, easy shoulders, worn coat, hat tipped, his disguise perfect, his mount black and breathing hard. My husband had his own posse of help, the very best surgical guns available, I was assured. But still this outlaw kept coming, taking my husband piece by piece. It’s enough to send a shiver down any mortal spine. Where this traveler goes, I can tell you a cold wind does blow, and when he rides into town you can smell the revenge. There is no remorse, not for this outlaw; if he leaves you alive he’ll either be back to finish you off or he’ll not be forgotten. The outlaw Cancer never holds a grudge; he just rides in on the black stallion and kills you, or he leaves you on your knees praying as he passes by.
You see, I found this letter.
So, finally, one of us is alone in the world, knowing the other has passed through. When I sat where you are sitting, I wondered what the world could have in store for me that is more traumatic or cruel. Do you remember when we sat on The Spanish Steps imagining we would find all the answers and be inspired by a vision of beauty, but they were just steps, a place to rest, to think, and while people busied themselves we wondered about love. Now you sit where I sat, and what I didn’t know then, but what I know now, is that love is eternal, it is made of stone, and no matter what happens it remains constant, sometimes looking like the Roman ruins, and sometimes like the Pacific Ocean, ever reminding us what it could or can be.
Looking up from this bed the sky looks blue, but beyond that there is a vast darkness. In that universe a voice crackles and shines and blazes through the empty dark. It cuts and shaves through nothingness, bending round planets between me my love. But of course you cannot hear them because you are still journeying but my words are catching fire as they speed passed Saturn and into the solar system.
"I miss you…wear your petticoat, play tennis, love our children?” and these words, even whispered will be fighting their way past meteors and electrical fields, searing towards Rome, flying, sparking and spreading out across the darkness of space...echoing past Neptune, bouncing off Mars, searching their way to a beautiful woman sitting right now on those Spanish Steps, resisting magnet fields trying to reach their destination, but no, they scorch toward you across space; a white flare of words holding onto Haley’s comet, words that will never fade… 'I love you.’
It was the faultless moment to end it.
I opened the tap on the morphine drip.
Goodbye, my darling poet, my wonderful husband. Journey well.