By Lauren Lang
I’ve always hated your name. I couldn’t tell you that when you were alive, but now that you’re dead, I can say anything I want. Your parents gave you an ugly grandma name, which didn’t suit you at all. You looked more like a Kelly, you know, with the normal spelling. None of those crazy “i’s” for you.
You would have heard the double entendre, and it would have made you giggle. I might have hated your name, but I loved that little snicker thing you did when I made a bad joke. I made a lot of questionable choices when it came to humor and life, but you were never one of them.
I loved you, Agnus, with all my heart. I still do, and I hope wherever you are now, you know that. When I promised you forever, I meant it.
I keep waiting for you to walk through the front door, carting armloads of shopping bags. You’ll have maxed out another credit card, but you’ll swear everything was on sale. Of course, there was never a sale. But this time, I won’t be angry about the money. This time, I’ll hold my tongue. I wanted you to be happy, and I’m sorry for every time I put myself before your joy.
I did that a lot, didn’t I? I got angry, yelled, said things I didn’t mean, because they would hurt you. I made myself and my feelings more important than us. You never blamed me, but this is still my fault.
Even as you lay there bleeding, you kept up that strong front. You kept telling me that everything would be okay, right up until the paramedics loaded you into the ambulance.
“Go to work,” you said. “The community needs you.”
I needed you more. I needed you more than the paycheck, more than the badge, more than anything, but it’s too late now. Work followed me home, and this time it wasn’t just another bad mood or a story so disgusting you could barely sit through it. You died because the monsters I tried to take off the streets broke into our home looking for me and instead found you.
It’s not okay, Agnus. None of this is all right. You lied. You didn’t mean to, but you did. You stood at that altar, long, auburn hair flowing freely down your back, and you promised me forever. I didn’t get forever.
You weren’t here to see the look on your mother’s face when I told her you were gone. I didn’t even catch her as she fell. I froze in the face of her grief. Your father picked her up. Your father pulled her close. Your father had hatred in his eyes and venom in his voice as he told me to get the hell off his lawn. He’s wanted to do that for years. I finally deserved it, Agnus.
You didn’t. You didn’t deserve the hell I put you through, always worried that I wouldn’t come home. I understand why you wanted a police scanner, why you listened so intently for my voice. The echoes of you are everywhere, and voicemails are all I have left. When I close my eyes and play them back, you tell me that you love me. You tell me that you love me a hundred times a night, but I don’t believe you anymore. If you loved me, you wouldn’t have left me.
Tell me again, baby girl. I need to hear you say it yourself, not through a tiny squawking speaker. We were supposed to be one of those couples who died ten minutes apart from each other in the hospital, holding hands, our kids and our grandkids staring down with tears in their eyes because our love was that damned inspirational.
If that’s how we planned to go out, we probably should have started working on having the kids. I’m glad we didn’t, though. Your parents would have insisted on names like Gladys and Wilber. It would have resulted in yet another fight. I’m happy we waited. I wouldn’t want to explain to little Sherman that Mommy isn’t coming home. I’m having enough trouble with the concept myself.
You would have told me to move on. You would have wanted me to be happy, even if it wasn’t with you. All you ever did was give. You’d give away the shirt on your back, even if your heart was on the sleeve. Sometimes I think that’s what you did with me. You gave me too much. You gave your love, and you gave your life. I’m not going to find another woman like you, Agnus. I know that.
I suspect I’m going to die old and bitter if this damn job doesn’t kill me first. This case just might. I’m afraid, honey. I’m scared that the cartels will find me one day, and I’ll die a much worse death than you did. When that happens, no one will cry for me like I’m crying for you. You really were the better half.
I’m even more afraid that if I go, I won’t find you where I end up, and I’ll spend eternity missing those arms and never feeling those lips again. That really would be hell.
I love you.