I wrote the last notes in a book, lit by the unromantic light of electric lantern sitting on the edge of the camping table. This was it. The divorce papers sat on the table, glaring up at me, golden in the circle of light.
She and I had travelled the world together. Camping in many places across the world, making love in a thin-walled tent in the flickering of the campfire. At home, we’d lain in each others arms, reading books or playing on our phones in the evening. Every memory, I associated with a glow. She had been my sun, my moon.
Perhaps that was where we had gone wrong. Put too much upon each other. I expected to be her everything and expected her to be mine. But there had been too much pressure and we had caved when our foundation had shifted.
I remembered when we were pregnant… As if I had done more than a 5 second job in the whole process. The gentle swell of her belly and the paternal pride that swelled dually in me. With every day she’d become incandescent, so much more beautiful than before. I could not have been more enchanted.
Until that night. She’d woken up in a panic, and I could do nothing to calm her. I had not listened. I had doubted. After an hour, I had taken her to the hospital, where the doctor had placed his stethascope on the round mount of her stomach. And then the ultrasound. With their words, her lumiscence was snuffed out.
I could not understand, I was not enough, could never fix it. From tears, to shouting, to shutting out. All I remembered was the tiny rosebuds we’d put on her coffin, comically small in my grief, before she was cremated. Our tiny doll, the beautiful gift that had been taken away. She could not look at me.
We’d been apart for 2 years now. Eventually, I’d realised she wasn’t going to come back. We’d done the responsible thing, started the process of separating our lives from one another. It unwound the strands of the fragile life I’d knitted together. Time meant nothing to me. I lost my job. The house was leased, until we were ready to sell.
There was nothing left of the life I loved. When the last of the papers came, I sobbed. There was nothing but pieces. I gathered them and fled to the last spot I felt whole. I went to the place where she and I had gotten together.
I had wept and sobbed, railed against the universe, yelled and screamed. Let it out. And then I took up a pen and wrote. Words poured out of me. Eventually the anger lapsed and the grief started.
Beyond the tears, the joy surfaced, at her conception. My wife, everything we had meant to each other. The simple joy of her head on my chest and her snoring there. A strand of her hair on my skin, the scent of her perfume. The rush when she smiled at me, eyes shining with joy. I could barely breathe with the memory of our lovemaking, in the gentle rays of the morning.
I had written our story then, as a letter for our daughter who never got a chance to be. It was apologies and stories and hope for her soul. It was a love letter to my wife who I had loved more than the sun.
And I finished, and sat surrounded by the darkness. Silent and still. For the first time in a long time I felt empty of it all.
Headlights wound up the hill to the campsite. I wondered who would come to this place in the dead of night. The car stopped right at my campsite and the light died. I could not see past the circle cast by the lamp. A woman got out of the car. Even in the shadow I recognised her.
My wife. She came close, but stood in the shadow, but I could see the sparkle of the stars in eyes filled with tears. She stood silently crying, looking at me.
In a hoarse voice, she simply said, “I can’t.”
I stood, knowing not what would happen next, and took her in my arms. And together we cried, grasping to each other as one would a life raft. And with that small gesture, I felt a little piece of my whole.