Looking out the front window through a curtain of rain, I watched the last of the guests all dressed in black get into their cars and drive away. Turning back, I walked from the living room to the dining room and stopped by the heavy oak table. I looked at the stacks of photo albums, their corners carefully trimmed in black ribbon.
As I passed the hutch, on my way to the kitchen, I spotted the tickets lying on the hutch next to a vase of Dottie’s favorite flowers. They were tickets for a trip of a lifetime that Dottie would never take, lying patiently in their envelope to be returned to the travel agency from whence they came.
Lois and June were finished tidying up the kitchen. The longest day of my life was drawing to a close and soon, for the first time in forty-eight years, I would truly be alone.
“Arthur, will you be alright?” June asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “I will be fine.”
“There are leftovers in the fridge if you get hungry, dear.”
“Thank you, Lois, I am sure I will be fine.”
“All right then, we’ll see you in church tomorrow?”
“Yes, of course and thank you ladies... thank you for everything.”
I watched in silence as the two old gals grabbed their coats from the backs of the chairs around the breakfast table and let themselves out the front door. I turned off the lights and made my way to my office to write the letter I had been dreading to write for nearly fifty years.
Pushing the keyboard aside, I made room for my yellow pad. I am a writer by trade but still create everything in longhand, even novels, which Dottie so tirelessly entered into the word processor to keep my editor from abandoning the ship.
I suppose now that Dottie’s gone I will have to learn how to use the computer. Even now old habits are deeply entrenched as I pulled my favorite maroon and 14k gold Plumpster fountain pen from a silver penholder and began the task of writing a letter to my mother-in-law.
Taking a deep breath, I plunged into the yellow and blue lined expanse before me, the Rhodium-plated steel nib making soothing scratching sounds as it steadily moves across the paper...
I was hoping you would have been able to come to Dottie’s funeral, but I understand how difficult traveling can be.
God has been working on my heart these last few years for the silence between us and now I have left it too late. Dottie has gone home to be with the Lord and we have not reconciled.
Please forgive me for convincing Dottie to elope all those years ago when you didn’t approve of me. I should have worked harder to earn your trust, should have understood the importance of earning your love.
Please forgive me for not giving you grandchildren. Dottie and I should have adopted for I understand the preciousness of children through the bitterness of having none. There will be no one to carry on for either of us, no one to be that light of Christ in a dark, forbidding world.
I am sorry that I never sent you a Christmas or birthday card. I am sorry for not trying to include you in our lives. I didn’t set out to exclude you; I just wasn’t sure how to reach across the void.
You once called me a lazy boy and perhaps I have grown into a lazy man. I took my life with Dottie for granted, keeping her all to myself. For this too, I apologize.
I would like to see you. I would like to show you our picture albums and tell you of my great love and joy for the life I lived with your daughter. I would like another chance to earn your trust, another chance to earn your love.
I now know how you felt that day I took your precious Dorothy away.
I placed the letter in an envelope and made my way through the darkened house to the coat closet. As I pulled my raincoat on I watched a bright yellow cab pull up in front of the house. The cabbie helped an elderly woman to the sidewalk. I opened the door and looked into the still sharp eyes of Dottie’s mother.
“The plane was late,” she replied simply.
“Won’t you come in?” I asked and turned on the lights.
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