5F College View, Apt 5
16 Fourteenthmonth 4599
I wanted to drop you a little note just to thank you for coming all the way across town to my husband’s funeral last week. It was very sweet of you, especially since the only thing we have in common is our mutual friends, Lanni Hargelstope and Harna Farsino. Your consolation was very touching, and I found it quite helpful in my time of grief. Your handsome husband and precocious child were also kind in their condolences. I shall treasure the memories forever.
Lanni told me that you were confused by a few aspects of the funeral; but that is only natural. After all, this is Homeland, a whole new planet for you and your charming son Darryl; so there is bound to be a lot of unfamiliar things. Of course, it was also your first visit to a Worship House of the Norda religion; so I imagine that had a lot to do with it.
I hope you won’t be embarrassed when I tell you this, but Lanni mentioned that you were particularly puzzled by the cause of my husband’s death and by my reasons for standing by him in his final years. For someone who is unacquainted with Norda, I can well understand that you would also be taken aback by the Worship Director’s remark that he had abused me.
So let me explain.
To begin with, Homeland is not Paradise, however much it must seem that way to a person who is newly arrived from a developing planet like Earth. Certainly, you must realize by now that medical science is never static! Every schoolchild knows that genetic drift in both higher and lower life forms see to that. Periodically throughout history there are fatal diseases and genetic disorders for which there are no cures; but eventually they are conquered. The key here is the word “eventually” —my husband was one of the unlucky ones who caught a “new” disease and died of it before the scientists could unravel its secrets. (Until they do, certain salad greens are definitely off the menu.) This is life: Hugmups hibernate in the winter (how I could use one now!), machines break down, accidents happen; and people die.
When my husband was first informed of his fate by his physician, he experienced a complete, but temporary, change of personality. He became overbearing and demanding. He treated me like a virtual slave, and insisted upon ruling the household arbitrarily. Once he even became violent and hit me (it frightened me then, but it was just a slap); and for several months he banished me from the bedroom. I slept on the living room carpet, and cried many a tear on Lanni’s shoulder. This is what the Worship Director was referring to when he spoke of my husband’s abuse.
I am told that you wondered why I stayed with him during that time, but I ask you, Melissa, how could I not? He was not evil, he was only scared of the sudden shortness of his life. I knew him well enough to see the distress beneath the storm. He did not know it to his dying day, but I had counseling sessions even as he did! Yes, it was a difficult time, and I had many second thoughts; but I thought of the future. He had so little of it, and had no more intimate friend to share it with than me.
This phase ended soon and harmlessly. His illness did not affect his everyday life to an appreciable degree—except what lay ahead for him. He recovered from the emotional trauma, and began to enjoy life. He became even more loving and considerate than before, and nearly forgot about his illness.
We threw snowballs at each other in the park last winter; we traveled to Ylanfayne and Halakan and even toured the Northwest continent in Blue and Spring. He showered me with affection, and gifts. (Some of them were simply too lavish, but I knew that his need to give them was greater than my need to refuse them, so I held my tongue.) It was a loving, yet poignant time. We argued playfully over who stole the blankets, and he ambushed me by tickling me with his toes in bed. We lost contact with our friends, not because we didn’t like their company, but because we found so much joy in each other. We drove to the mountains, and to the Lakeshore; we watched the sunset, and got up early to see the mist in the mountains before dawn. We did the simplest things of our lives, and found immense joy and beauty in them. How ironic that a tragic event could bring so much happiness for us both!
But this all came to an end this summer, beginning in Eighthmonth. He fell ill, and we both knew at the time what was coming. We cried a lot, and reminisced over the many years of our marriage; good times and bad. As the months progressed, his conditioned worsened. Soon we were cloistered by his illness rather than our love. He began to need a wheelchair; one day he forgot my name. I cried longer and harder on that day than I have since his death. Then last Sixthday, he died in the hospital, though I daresay he didn’t have the presence of mind even to know where he was.
The Worship Director was kind to speak of my ‘valiant character,’ but it was really no noble deed. I loved him, Melissa, more than any other person I have ever known. I spent most of my life with him, arguing, reconciling, planning, and dreaming. He knew all of my secrets. He could imitate every single annoying mannerism I had ever acquired.
When I look back, it is the sad memories that seem dearest.
I can honestly say I was lucky. We were married so long ago when we were very young and foolish, and if my younger self had asked my present self for advice, I would never have consented to the wedding. The time was wrong, the man was wrong, the money was wrong, the motivation was wrong: in short, we were idiots! I promised him then that I would love him forever, and I spent the rest of my life fulfilling that promise, as he fulfilled the same promise to me.
That’s why I couldn’t leave him when he had emotional problems and took them out on me. I had made a promise, and if I broke that promise, I would have betrayed my own soul. I would have demonstrated to others and to myself that I was weak of character and faint of heart. I also would have left him to suffer his final days without his life-long companion. That is an evil I could not bring myself to commit.
I loved my husband, Melissa, with all my being. I love him still, as he slumbers among the dead, awaiting Nord and Paradise. As I stood by his gravesite that day, you saw my tears; but they were tears of joy and hope as well as grief. He brought me joy for most of my life; and I have faith that our love for each other, by the grace of Nord, will overcome even this setback of death.
This did not turn out to be the “little note” that I had promised. Perhaps you will forgive its length, and understand why. Please greet your husband Harshan and your child Darryl; you are all excellent people, whom I am honored to know.