Even at this time in our relationship – a time when I felt that Maggie was the most important person in my life and I could envision myself being in love with her – I continued to be cautious in admitting that I did love her. There was no question that we had come to know each other through our letters over the past two years and there was also no question that she was indeed the person in her letters, yet I remained haunted by the reality that we really hadn’t spent much time with each other. What would happen if, after being discharged from the Army and physically being with Maggie for several months, I discovered that she wasn’t the “right girl” for me. Although I was now more expressive in admitting my feelings for her, I still couldn’t tell her “I love you” – not yet – not until I was certain.
In previous letters, I had explained to Maggie why I couldn’t say those three words – and at some level she accepted my explanation – but there was no question that she seriously doubted that everything would turn out as she hoped it would. In one of her early letters to me, after openly expressing her feelings about her hopes for our relationship, she wrote:
Something keeps telling me I’m playing my cards all wrong, but then love isn’t a card game. Yet, isn’t it strange that I (the female) should be certain of her love and you (the opposite) so uncertain? Somehow I just can’t picture things working out to a point of happily ever after. It just doesn’t figure out right.
And then in another letter, written much later in our correspondence, she freely expressed the confusion she still felt, even though I was now much more open in admitting that she meant everything to me:
I’m not asking for anything, Dennis - just a chance to know you better. Right now I’m sad, happy, frightened and challenged all at the same time. I’m sad because geographical distance makes it impossible to have you here with me; I’m frightened because of the need to have you feel that way about me, and I’m challenged because I have so much to learn. I’m sad because I’m happy and I’m happy because I’m sad. I’m frightened because I’m challenged and I’m challenged because I’m frightened. You’ll understand that.
And in yet another letter, written only a month before I was to be discharged to return to Chicago, she shared her vulnerability when she wrote with such honesty of her fear:
I love you, Dennis. And sometimes even when the hope of finding your love seems to grow dim, I think that perhaps I’m only imagining defeat and that your time to love just hasn’t come yet. then I can go on hoping.
And I love you. And I need your tenderness so very much. I long for your nearness all the day --- and night.
I apologize for the inconsistency of my writings to you. My days have been very busy lately for a variety of reasons, some related to family obligations and others related to my involvement in community events. After this entry, I hope to post my writings on Tuesdays as I have in the past.
In one of her last letters to me, written on 3/20/68, Maggie tells me how she envisions our first meeting when I return to the United States. Since I promised her that she would be the first person I would come to see, Maggie sent me a key to her apartment so I could let myself in – regardless of the time of day:
Sometimes I picture what it will be like if you surprise me when you come to Chicago.
At night – I’d be sleeping soundly and awaken with the touch of strong arms and a gentle kiss.
After work – I’d be rushing up the stairway, open the door, and suddenly be caught up in your arms.
In the evening – I’d be doing something (sewing), suddenly I hear something – turn – and you’re there.
I’ll rush to your arms and trip on the way knocking you over --- I’m so Klunkie!!
Following are my favorite excerpts from Maggie’s last two letters. I will underline her comments that touched me most:
Would you believe I’m depressed? I’ve always known that I’m a demanding --- not demanding --- possessive woman, but now I’m even more certain of the intensity of these feelings. I was thinking of when you’ll be home and how much I’m going to want you near me. I’m afraid things will be terrible until I can understand that you cannot always be as close to me as the next room.
(Throughout our entire marriage Maggie was always most comfortable when I was “as close to me as the next room” and this became even more important in the final months of her life.)
Oh, but I miss you so very much and how I long to be a part of your everyday life. Like tonight – It’s storming and I’m so afraid --- ever since I was hit by lightning last summer. I need you now.
(I could just picture Maggie sitting there during the storm – so frightened. She had been struck by indirect lightning the summer before. While she was in her house, sitting on a metal chair talking on the phone during a severe storm, a bolt of lightning hit so close that it knocked her off the chair and completely across the room. And all the tiles in kitchen, wherever there was wiring, popped off the wall. She survived that strike, but always feared severe storms from that day on).
You don’t know how very much I live for the day when you’ll click into my apartment. Nothing else matters half as much as when I’ll be with you again.
The last two comments are from Maggie’s last letter to me:
Until I see you, I’ll be waiting here thinking of you.
I wonder if I’ll miss writing to you.