In my next letter to Maggie I responded to a comment she made - “I don’t want to go on alone anymore. I am afraid and tired of fighting alone.” This really disturbed me. I know I hadn’t told Maggie that I loved her, but I at least thought that I was there for her when she told me about the challenges she was facing in her life. I wrote:
I am saddened to think that you feel this way. If you feel that you have faced your problems by yourself; if you truly believe that you have stood with no one by your side, then I have suffered in vain. I have failed you again. You turned to me when you were troubled and I failed to convince you that I was concerned; that I was happy when you were happy, sad when you were sad; that what you felt, I felt – that you were not alone. If I have failed you in this, then I could not have failed you more seriously. If I have failed you in this, I do not deserve your love.
Excerpts from Maggie’s next two letters convinced me even more that we had indeed gotten through this turning point. She was beginning to understand why I was being so careful in what I said to her and I was certain that that had to be difficult. I knew she had dated a lot of guys and that many of them were far more expressive, telling her how beautiful she was and how much they loved her. I also knew that she feared our “getting together” was highly unlikely.
Maggie’s response to my letter was quick:
You have helped me so much, Dennis. You have listened to me. You have advised and consented. You have hoped for me. This alone is far more than I ever expected. You haven’t been here physically, but you, wonderful you, gave me the warmth of an embrace from away across an ocean.
My love for you is genuine. It has lasted through doubts and fears, unbearable heartaches, exciting romances and all via air mail.
I have crushed my feelings of impatience. I’m back to the way of giving you all that I can and freely accepting all that you can give without frustration, or anxiety. I am myself again.
And then in a letter she wrote that same evening:
I am happy because I have had an enlightenment. How foolish I was to have pushed you; to have asked you to commit yourself when you have already committed yourself without my asking.
I can wait until you can tell me face to face that you love me only if you really will mean all that it implies. I never want you to say those three words until they say all of what you said they would.
I can say them to you and I mean it. I haven’t placed you on a throne, Dennis. I’ve only told you of what I have learned about you. My only disappointment in you could be that you cannot love me. If that happens, it will be difficult for me at first, but life will go on.
Maggie and I were getting closer to more clearly understanding our relationship. However, since I was unable to make a formal commitment, we continued to agree to date other people. I wasn’t comfortable with this decision because I was afraid of losing her, but I had no right to ask her to “wait for me.” I couldn’t expect her to stop seeing other men if I was unable to promise that we would be together when I was discharged from the Army. From this point on, anytime there would be a delay in receiving a letter from Maggie, I expected the worst (Why isn’t she writing? Did she fall in love with someone else?).
Next time I will send some of my favorite excerpts from letters written by Maggie during the following two months.