Army Cantonment, Southern Ravile
I wondered if our postman loved you so much that he kept the letters you sent with him. That would have been better because such an answer to a question that kept me awake for the better part of the last 6 months wouldn’t make me sad. Thoughts of you being cross with me did trouble me but why would you be cross with me? I have sent you a letter every day for the past 3 years, describing events so vividly that you might remember more about my life than yours. I called your Officer-in-charge and she called me Big J while talking to me. You either told her about the time I cried while Gwen was riding a bike, or she caught you while you were sleep talking but it felt good to hear that name. The nurses here call me Mr. Hayden and I have told them that I don’t have much time to live so why not just call me ‘J’ and make me feel younger? But they are complete sweethearts, you would have liked them if you were here.
But you won’t ever be coming back right?
Your Sergeant told me you were hit by a bullet and are in a coma for the past 6 months, God bless that lady because she bore witness to the famous “Big J weep” and yet maintained a voice as strong as steel. She told me that you might die and that for you to live would mean that God exists. I wondered why I didn’t receive letters from you and was quite passive for a while as if my slight anger could wake you up. I have a secret too since you never told me about your Coma.
I am dying, we both are and there is nothing we can do.
I asked the nurses to get me a typewriter as my going away gift but either the hospital doesn’t pay them enough or they don’t love me as much as I think they do. Instead, they got me a paper and a ball pen whose flow I quite like. I have lost both my lungs and the machine beside me does all my breathing for now. I could extend my life for a couple of months more, but it doesn’t feel human if my diaphragm doesn’t move. I wept bitterly in front of your sergeant and asked her to tell you that I am fine, perhaps not realizing that you can’t hear anyone. This letter is nothing but the last piece of communication between us, perhaps it will never reach you, but I hope it does and that I die with a sense of apparent happiness. I could say I love you Allyn, but in the face of death, words make so little sense. Me loving you can’t change the situation, my earnest desire to share the same bed with you is nothing but a dream now. Maybe I can’t stop death, but I can remove the morosity surrounding it. Gwen has secured a seat in Harvard; I have saved the money you sent every year and made her a small fund. She said she will miss me and that she regrets not kissing you before you die. Can you believe our daughter all so grown up that she has to see us die? Last month I got your Army Uniform to the hospital and I am wearing it right now. It’s a bit tight around the waist but I think I have put on some weight. I touch the name on the tag that’s embroidered and wonder why either of us had to die and why you have no idea that I am dying. I remember the day you fell in the river and pulled me down with you, the day you snorted like a
pig and I wanted to hug you. Some memories are blurred, and some are lost but your face remains imprinted, your uniform feels like home Allyn, you were my home.
If my words can be of any solace if you can hear the ballpoint pen creasing the surface of the paper, don’t be afraid Allyn, you were the most human person I knew and to share a life with you was the only thing that made me happy.
If we die, at different times may our souls wander on the earth in search of each other until we both can begin our descent to a place that’s away from mankind. Let our souls talk and laugh, cry and weep. It might be what Gwen calls ‘cringe’ but I am dying and so are you, I hope Gwen doesn’t read this letter. Our love might not be what Shakespeare wrote but that doesn’t mean it’s any less.