Jessie

Christina~

I know you hurt, for the loss of me, the loss you feel and the grief you hold in the depths of your heart. I know. I do. I’ve felt that kind of grief. That loss. That sense of feeling like everything you know to be true has simply vanished. The pain is so great, so deep … not even comparing it to the vastness of space, or the depths of the deepest spot in the ocean, feel as if they can put words to the bigness of that loss. Your loss. I’m sorry, my darling daughter, for causing that in you.

I know such loss … and now, I am going to share it with you. Know going in, I would not ask this of you unless I had no other choice. I understand what this moment is to you, and to infringe on your moment, with my needs, goes against the mother you knew me to be.

However, I can’t be at peace unless I know you have the knowledge that I never had the words for while in life. For this letter is going to be my greatest request of you.

You know I loved your father. Noah. Oh, my dear Noah. Our life was long and beautiful. Ordinary and extraordinary. Common and yet we were the royalty of our own story. We lived and loved. We both worked and raised you kids. Oh, such joy and love, bickering and fighting all entwined in those busy, active years of our dear family. We hit the usual and yet still unique benchmarks of modern day life. We had hobbies and passions and indulged them, when we could scrounge out the time. We worked. We played. We loved. We fought. We made up. We were friends. We were everything.

Then he died.

You felt and witnessed my grief. It was as deep and real as I imagine yours feels today.

Don’t let this letter ever deflect from that.

Or change the depth of that truth.

But there was … someone before your dad. Someone who knew me. Who loved me. Who once saved me and put me back together, and then … he had to leave me.

He is the only reason we had the life we did. He was the only reason I healed, grew, and finally found a life and normalcy with your dad.

And fear not. No guilt. Your father knew all this. He knew who this was and more important, who this was to me.

Your father was insanely understanding and accepting of me. Perhaps because he knew everything I once suffered and how hard it was for me to survive and move forward.

So he let me have my first love, separate and yet equal to him. Never more than him. No. I loved two men in my life and you witnessed the one I loved the longest and best.

But there was another.

You’ve heard rumblings, whispers of my past. Of me being kidnapped, hurt, and raped.

What you didn’t hear was who rescued me.

He was a solider, and he rescued me.

But … that was only the beginning.

He saved me when no one else could, physically, mentally and emotionally. You see … because he always knew … he knew, what no one, not even your father could put words to. This man, this soldier simply knew. He understood on a visceral level what had happened to me.

He was able to help me put the scattered, jagged and humiliated pieces of me back together into the framework of the woman you would eventually know as your mother.

This soldier. He left me. He came back to me. He loved me. He could not be with me.

Then he left me for a final time. He left me because he knew I could never fully heal with him, not like I could with someone else.

Someone who wasn’t there. Who didn’t know.

This man, this soldier was also … your father.

I know it’s shocking. It hurts. I’m sorry. I would have told you sooner, but Noah didn’t want that knowledge on you. Noah considered himself your father, so there was no distinction for him.

I always understood that.

But in my heart, you were a piece of him. A piece of Will. His name was Will. You were the best pieces of Will, and I filled my days with you. The joy of my life. The delight of my heart. The breath of my soul.

But I find in my old age I can’t stand to let Will be forgotten.

You see he died in Afghanistan, during the war, before he ever knew about you. I’ve always believed he’d have come back to me—us. If only he had the chance to know about you.

But alas … life is never linear. Or fair. Or kind.

It’s brutal and brilliant. Tough and fragile.

Life is the very lesson this letter is teaching you.

I’m sorry. I’m also … not. I’m glad you were born. I’m glad you were Will’s and that I loved him.

I’m glad I raised you. I’m glad Noah helped me do so.

So you will have to live with those two halves of my truth.

Attached is the address of where Will is buried. Remember that yearly trip to the East Coast I’d make? This was why. I gave Will one day a year. I ask—all I ask in my death—is that you do the same.

And realize he, this soldier, gave me you.

The greatest gift of my life.

And he gave you the greatest gift of your life in the man who raised you. Noah.

I’m sorry for the shock. For the awe. But I’m not sorry about Will. Or Noah. Or you. You were all integral to my story, my heart, and my soul. You were what defined me and shaped me and made me live, not just survive.

Now in the death of us … continue to live for us … all of us. Me. Noah … Will.

Visit them my love, and me. Visit your father and this man who once saved me.

Because in saving me, he saved us all.

All my love~

Mom

Author: Leanne Davis

Characters from the fictional novel The Other Sister 

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