The only thing that’s changed has something to do with a sad ghost bereaving alone in silence.
It’s the way we were most vastly different that resulted in our having something special in common, more than most: you being the dedicated working wife and mother; me – as not that as humanly possible. The intimacy in our relationship could only have happened the way it did: non-traditional, yet classic. We got to know each other quite well in that sense, and for some hundred weeks before the passion-fueled affection stole our manner of choice in how things would play out over the some hundred that would follow.
You routinely spoke fondly of your children and though, once our affair began, no words of their father left your lips, I never got an inkling that you were anything but happily devoted to your entire family and the life you had together with them.
To my mind, the details and nature of our relationship only reinforce the evidence of your capacity for this devotion, expressed more accurately as the pure innocence of love. Anyone thinking otherwise would be tragically mistaken. I hope this is not the case. I don’t like to think that there might be someone from your life who knew about us and thought you less considerate a matriarch for it, less humane a woman, or less dear a human.
The ghost I encounter is not a haunting memory of you, for your spirit doesn’t deserve such depiction. The ghost I encounter is the prudence of not knowing anyone who knew you, or the denial of imprudently seeking out someone who I could really share your memory with.
You’re the only one I can really talk to about you. Is this a fake conversation? Was our relationship real?
We talked about everything, but we never talked about us, which actually made things much easier for me at the time. I hope it did you, too.
The most obvious thing we never spoke about was the forbidden character of our communion. Care was taken to keep it a secret, but not explicitly so. For a long time after you hadn’t made contact with me – what had become the only way to assure not arousing suspicion, the sheer brilliantly implicit nature of which only you and I as initiates could comprehend – I thought you’d finally been overcome with too much guilt to write me.
Sternly promising myself every time we were to meet that I owed it to you not to give in to lust, the affection always proved too acute, so I came to experience that each meeting would become a tryst. I assumed I was the one in control of whether or not the clothes came off and am pretty sure, still, that I could have been the one to keep it chaste, even after the love boat had sailed.
I do suppose, now, you felt at least as conflicted as I did, though wouldn’t hold it against you if that discord had been all my own.
In fact, our last time together, I wondered – and wondered later, and still wonder – if I infected you unconsciously with my own sense of shame. My familiars might say this is burdening myself unnecessarily; yours more likely the opposite: that I should carry it all the more. Yet, I doubt there is anyone that knows about us – each and every one of them a ghost.
To say that I miss you would be a great disservice to those who miss you most: your every day, not your every week. I cannot allow myself to say I miss you. I do insist that I miss something, though. Not the sex, intensely forbidden, or the tenderness, exceptionally sweet. Not like the missing you between the last time we were together and more recently, when I was reminded in as appropriately inappropriate a fashion that I would have to miss you finally and forever and for sure.
I was bound to discover eventually, as we live in an age in which our curiosity can be satisfied theoretically with technology, even if it only feeds back to the same. I am reminded of our having been born within a few months many miles apart, and think about how if this were twenty years ago, I never would have come upon the dreadful news. I am torn in spite of my understanding that you could in no way share this one last part of your life with me.
This is the most cruel aspect of the ghostly dilemma.
Now, of course, I wonder how long your illness was, what it was, and what caused it. I imagine your having been strong throughout, for the family. I grieve sincerely for their suffering and for your having so suffered.
I regret that our final moments together were laden with guilt on my part, or that you might’ve thought less of me because you thought I thought less of you. Or that you might’ve thought less of yourself all on your own.
I lament your not being able to see your younger two through to where you saw your oldest, the story of which you chronicled in that letter to me. I told you what accomplished storytelling it was, but I never told you that it made me cry. At that time it was a simple, yet profound parallel of periods, the tale of two moments between a mother and son; now its bearing is too much to embrace when I think that your youngest will not experience the same full-circle poignancy.
I bemoan that I’d swear to my death this is fiction. I wish I could openly extol you in name.