“Excuse me, you're Chris aren't you? Chris Mason? Well, um, Mr. Mason my name is Kristoff Avery... and ah, I think you knew my mom...um... years ago. Lorna Avery?” Kristoff ducked his head under the enormous patio umbrella to shield himself from the blinding sun.
The old man looked up at him, with a puzzled expression.
“Oh, I'm sorry, you must have known her as Matthews, Lorna Matthews? Well, anyway, I came across this letter, going through all her stuff...that I guess she just never mailed, and I thought you should have it. So here you go...” Kristoff held out the yellowed envelope and Chris took it with a shaky hand.
“Yes, I'm Chris Mason. Thank you. Would you like to sit with me?” he gestured to the wrought iron bench next to his chair. “It's quite a lovely day; they wheel me out here to sit when it's sunny and warm.” He nodded to one of the nursing staff as she brought him a small white cup and two pills. He took his medication and drank the contents of the plastic cup, the letter still grasped in his hand.
Kristoff sat down next to him, uncertain of what to say next.
“Thank you, it is a lovely day.” He paused and then, “Mom passed away last month, I don't know if you knew...she had been sick for a long time.”
Tears welled up in Chris's eyes and he looked away.
“I'm very sorry, Mr. Mason.... maybe I shouldn't have come.” Kristoff stood to leave and the old man held up his hand.
“Please, I didn't know she had been sick. You said you found this letter?” his voice cracked.
“Yes, and then it took quite a while to locate you, that address is almost 30 years old. And then of course, you are here now... They have a strict privacy code, it's an extraordinary place.” He looked around at the beautifully landscaped grounds, the over abundance of flowers & shaped hedges. A full medical staff tending to the other residents, sitting out in the sun.
“You look like her.” Chris smiled wistfully.
“Yes sir, that's what everyone has always said. You knew her well?”
“A long time ago...” He clutched the letter to his chest. “A long time ago we were friends. Just friends.”
But Kristoff could tell by the way he said it, that this man and his mother had been much more than just friends. Maybe he shouldn't have brought the letter. Now he just stood there in the awkward silence. Chris looked up at him. Oh yes, he looked so very much like Lorna, he had her eyes.
“I really should be going, it was very nice to meet you.” Kristoff didn't wait for a response, he quickly headed back through the immaculate grounds, disconcerted that the exchange had made him so uncomfortable.
Chris cradled the letter to his chest for a long time. Curious as to it's contents, and yet fearful of them. Maybe it was best if he never read it. There was nothing on the exterior of the letter to give him an idea of the time frame in which it was written. Was it written when they were only just friends?
Or after they had become so much more? Or even after then, when he had left her?
He laid the letter on the glass topped table in front of him. No. He would not read it. It would only bring him pain; and he was having one of his better days.
Twenty minutes later, he still sat staring at the envelope, pondering it's possible contents.
Then he grabbed the letter and tore it open.
I have waited for months to write to you. I have been trying to decide if I should tell you or not, and I suppose that I really have no choice. You will probably find out sooner or later anyway.
I am writing you because I cannot bear to face you. Perhaps if I had told you, you would not have left, but then... you would've been staying for the wrong reasons.
I am sitting here remembering the beautiful life that we shared, that now seems so very long ago. I used to sit up nights and watch you sleeping. Did you know that? I used to stroke your hair and whisper love sonnets to you as you dreamt.
And now, when I close my eyes each night, I can see your peaceful face, smiling in slumber. Oh Chris, if I could just have you back. How many times can I write that I love you, before you will return to me? How many days, weeks, months must I suffer? I still do not understand why you have left me. I thought that we were so happy.
It seems as though I should tire of writing letters to you that I have no intention of ever sending; most especially this one. I should burn all of them, lest they ever find their way into your hands.
If you ever come back to me, I want it to be because you love me, not because....
Well, that brings me to the purpose of this particular letter.
My dear Chris... since you left me, I have had another child. Now Maeve has a little brother, and we make quite the family. But it is an incomplete family without you.
I love you Chris, I always have and I always will. But just like I kept my feelings for you a secret for so long, so too must I keep another secret; Kristofferson is your son.
Maybe one day I will send this letter to you. And maybe one day you will forgive me.
©2011 Garden Summerland