"You Know I Love You, Don't You?"

 

That's what he says to me. I know the answer
he wants, he needs, but I can't give it to him.
I don't know. I know what love is and this
doesn't feel like it. I hide my face in his
neck and swallow back my tears because I have
cried in front of him already today. It "upsets"
him. I told him that every man who has ever
said they love me has hurt me. He says nothing.
What is there to say?

I really didn't think he would show up today.
I was so sure that I laid on my bed, hugging
a box of kleenex and cried myself to sleep.
He woke me up by opening the bedroom door.
I sat up with a startled expression on my
tear-stained face. So he lay down beside me and
held me while I cried and told him that his
love hurts me. His love makes me wish I were
dead most of the time. He said nothing.
What was there to say?

"Let's not talk about that now," he says. "It
will only make you sad. It makes me sad." "Oh,"
I say, "I'm already as sad as I've ever been in
my life." There is nothing more that could happen
to me that would be worse than the things I have
already survived. I am bound to him by invisible
strings of pain and tears and a love I can't get
rid of.

Afterwards he lays sleeping naked on top of the
blankets. I watch goose bumps rise on his skin
and get the extra blanket out of the closet and
cover him. This simple act fills me with sorrow.
He can use me, hurt me with his love, read my
letters filled with pain and tears and do nothing.
I see him shiver and I cover him. "This, denise,
should tell you something." But what? That I am
better at love than he is? That I am strong where
he is weak? That I am as good as he is bad?

I try everyday to let this go. I make a conscious
effort to get past this pain and find whatever it
is on the other side. I fail. "I will mail you
more often and call you, too," he says. Such little
things. Why do I have to cry in his arms before he
can decide that he needs to tell me he loves me when
he is gone?

"You know I love you, don't you?" He's gone now.
No, I don't know that. I don't even believe it
anymore. One of these days he will ask that
question and I will answer him with rage. I will
tell him that his love is no different than knapper's.
I will tell him that it was not enough to tell me. I
needed to be shown, too. One of these days when the
final layer of pain has been laid and there is nothing
left of the love that it covers.

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