I keep thinking the things I never told you… I keep thinking the things I didn’t say….
Wonder if I’ll see you tomorrow?…. I’ll wonder if I’ll forget today?….
No. No is the answer to the last two questions.
That door. In the picture is what kept you from me for all of those years. And in a way it still keeps you from me now. Even though all that resides there are memories and ghosts. Ghosts of years past. Ghosts of letters past. Ghosts of visits come and gone. Ghosts of promises made but not kept. Ghosts of – you.
I drive around here and every corner I turn down I am assaulted by memories. Of you. Of me. Of us. They come out of nowhere and I find it hard to drive when my eyes are full of tears. And you put them there. With eight tiny words YOU sentenced ME to a life sentence and now, all these years later I may as well be prison because my heart feels like its there. And it has every day since you said those words to me. I’m supposed to be getting married. My plans are at a standstill. My relationship with Michael? Destroyed and in pieces and even though your not physically here you may as well have been. My relationship with David? At a complete and utter standstill. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
I could make the decision to lock you in the deepest recesses of my mind but I know that you’ll make your way back to the forefront. You always do. The day he put that ring on my finger, all I could think of were the words you said to me and everything that we went thru day after day, week after week, year after year.
At 3.30am this morning while I was driving back to my hotel after a night out, I found myself back at the gates of the prison and I sat there. And I cried because I knew that slowly slowly as they tear that place down I won’t have our memories anymore except in my head. And its not enough. I want more. I need more. Because I don’t even know if your alive anymore. I have no way of finding out. When you left. You did it well.
The other place that we had. Also gone. Closed and destroyed. Yet another prison. Yet another set of memories. All the times we laughed about the tree wrapped in a doona jumping the fence. You – the invisible baker and your run of the prison. Memories of my complete and utter bewilderment when you called me and told me you were taking a job in the prison bakery. Memories of you laughing at me when you told me that it meant you could call me at anytime of the night because you had access to the phones working in there. So you became my invisible baker.
I’m sitting here typing this and I can hear your voice in my head. I can hear you telling me about your crazy plan to be moved closer to me. You created a drama to have yourself moved to a maximum security prison to be closer to me. To save me eight hours of driving after they took you from Bendigo to Yarram. I remember being at the prison in Bendigo the day they moved you. I remember you smiling. I remember your hug and your kiss. And I remember you looking at me, looking straight into my eyes with your blue ones and telling me “smile pretty girl, I’m doing this for us”. Then you let go of me and they took you away.
Now its just me and my red box of memories. Eight hundred and seventy two letters. Are all I have left. And a photo. That’s faded and old. And the memory of your smile in my mind. But what wipes that way a little more each day is when I read those eight words in the 872nd letter. The very last one you wrote to me. Eight tiny words that replay in my head over and over and over. And it never gets any easier to read. I’ve tried. I’ve read it constantly and told myself that you did it for me. But you didn’t. You did it for you because you couldn’t handle what you knew was coming. And I’m sorry that my love for you wasn’t enough. I wonder if maybe something I said or did made you think it wasn’t enough.
Do you remember the first time we met? I do. Its burned into my memory. I remember it was totally by chance. My bloody insane need to help people. All those years at Uni so that one day I could work with people like you. A chance visit to Bendigo prison to interview two people. Someone that had spent their entire life in prison and then someone who had made a horrible mistake and had a chance at rehabilitation. You being the later.
I never knew that day just what it was you were in prison for. Part of the interview process was that I wasn’t allowed to ask you what you had been sentenced for. It was that instant bond that we formed that day that finally allowed you to open up to me in your letters and tell me what you were there for.
I remember talking to you on the phone after I had read your letter and telling you that it didn’t matter. You very quietly said it did. And you asked me to do something for you. You asked me to research the newspapers, to go to the courts and get the details of why you did what you did. So I granted your wish. I spent hours pouring over newspaper reports from five years before I met you and although I was shocked – it never changed how I felt for you and I told you that. On the phone, in a letter and in a prison garden where I visited you. You’d taken someone’s life to protect your own.
You’d taken someone’s life to protect your own. I can’t understand how you felt but I knew you took someone else’s life to save your own.
We talked forever and ever about it and then you dropped the bombshell.
Although you still had ten years left to go in prison, what you had done had left you with a life sentence.
And me too.