I forgive you for asking me to drive your car to the shop to have the brakes adjusted and neglecting to tell me that the brakes were like gone and that shifting into second gear would put the car into reverse.
I forgive you for trashing my turntable and my easel and my guitar and miscellaneous other gear that offended you for no other reason than that it was mine.
I forgive you for what I discovered the night the ice storm downed power lines and trees and unleashed a torrent of pigs from a farm down the road who rooted up every bulb I’d ever planted, something I could perhaps have curtailed if I could have seen them with a flashlight instead of only hearing them. It wasn’t just that the batteries in the flashlights were dead but that even when I located the good batteries I couldn’t find a good battery.
Here’s some friendly information for your new life with your new wife: putting dead batteries back in with the good batteries will not recharge them no matter how many dead batteries you try it with.
I forgive you for pissing in the cat box when you were drunk–I understand you just needed to mark your territory.
I forgive you for not even calling me when I was in the hospital, and I understand that you probably thought you didn’t have anything you wanted to say to me and that you certainly didn’t want to hear anything I might have to say then or ever.
However, for future reference, there are some words of a generic sort that don’t require any thought and match your style and can be spoken with very little effort on such occasions almost as one long word that will make it impossible for the other person to say anything at all. You might consider using them in similar circumstances with your new wife or even with the other women and whatnot she probably doesn’t know about yet: Hey baby are you doing ok I hope you are all right and I really want to drive two miles to see you but I’m just constitutionally infuckingcapable of thinking about other people when they are out of my sight.
By the way, the best thing to say wasn’t “I see you’re not dead yet” after the taxi driver helped me hobble up the stairs while you watched from the comfort of your lazy boy.
I won’t even mention several other things, like that I could have used a kind word or two of the sort a decent person would have to spare even for a stranger when people I loved were sick or dying, and I understand that using the phone on such occasions might have interfered with the rather more important activities you engaged in when I was out of town, or, now that I think about it, whenever I was not out of town.
I forgive you for not even making noises in the general direction of attending the funerals where everyone asked me where you were, though you might contemplate for your new life the fact that lying may sometimes be preferable to what your particular kind of absence and silence says.
True, it did take me a bit too long to understand that when you were silent, you weren’t thinking complex thoughts that words just weren’t up to expressing, but it might not take that long for the new wife to figure that out.
I forgive you for putting clothes and shoes of mine that you apparently considered unnecessary out with the garbage and nudging the garbage can right up to where I’d be parking my car when I got home from the work that I actually needed those clothes and shoes for. I understand that it was a necessary step in your ongoing destruction of my things.
I do want you to know that I managed to wear that really really good pair of boots for almost a year by keeping them in my car until you drove my car and decided to throw everything in it away too and thus put an end to the strategy I had adopted of actually dressing in my car.
I forgive you for your thoughtful financial planning—you retire at 55, I retire at 70—WTF why not 71 or 80—I guess you thought I should be punished for having a low-paying job by having to do it till I dropped dead, though I understand that what you were probably really thinking was that my job was so low-paying that I would still owe you something even after I was dead.
By the way, I discovered your retirement spreadsheet at the same time I discovered the rather pedestrian words of love you were emailing Tanya or Sonja or Candy or Pansy or one of the other girlfriend experiences to whom you were writing things like I love you I love every moment I’m with you I love your sweet lips your eyes your hair your ass and I think about you every moment I’m away from you.
It was not lost on me that you kept your financial planning documents and notes to whores in the same folder on your desktop, something you should probably consider changing after you are get settled into the comfy home you are sharing with your new family.
I forgive you for suddenly needing to leave me home alone for three weeks with a can opener and some canned peas when my shoulder was dislocated and I couldn’t even dress myself. And I forgive you for forgetting to pick up my medication before you left, and I understand that you were in a hurry to leave town. I should probably in fact thank you: being alone for three weeks of riveting pain was truly a life-changing experience through which I discovered not only that you weren’t a very good husband but that my friends weren’t very good friends either. Good to know.
I forgive you for saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” when I told you the malicious little bully I work for was harassing me so relentlessly that I couldn’t take it anymore, though “good luck with that” might have been something a bit more encouraging you could have said before you casually turned the volume of the television up and up and up until you couldn’t have heard me if I had been screaming in your face, which is something that I rather regret not doing all those times you started hitting the volume button as soon as I started to speak. No man has ever said as much as you said with a television remote.
I forgive you for relentlessly chastising me for affronting your sensibilities by having too many books. I understand that for you a household with reading material that requires thought and can actually be reread is a household in a state of unacceptable clutter. I’m not sure why I didn’t understand at the time that I was the clutter you yearned to throw out–I think I may actually have some kind of autism spectrum disorder–but I understand that it’s hard for you to be man enough to say what you think and get it over with and let me get on with my life instead of dragging it out until you would no longer have to pay spousal support if I divorced you at which point you felt free to totally move over into the other life in which you had been living large. About some things, you are indeed clever.
I forgive you for not saying so much as a how-de-do to my family whenever you went back home without me—at least that was where you said you were going. You could treat me anyway you pleased, but really, what harm could it have done you to visit for half an hour with people who actually loved you and thought you loved me and thought the one thing I’d done right in my life was to marry your splendid self, though now that I think about it not seeing you allowed everyone not to see what was really up.
I forgive you for being preoccupied with scrolling through porn on your iPhone in our living room and not even looking up at me when I was standing three feet away from you telling you that my face was bleeding and I couldn’t move one of my hands because some asshole, or, rather, some asshole other than you, had punched me around in the parking lot at work in the process of taking my purse and my briefcase. I understand that finding something to say other than “well, you didn’t have anything of value in them anyway” or expressing a bit of concern would have taxed your repertoire of sentiments.
I understand what the fuck you were thinking, but what the fuck was I thinking.
I forgive you for refusing to let me hire someone to repair the fence and saying you would do it and not doing it for ten years. You were very present in my mind the day I was naked in the laundry room pulling some rag from the dryer to wear to my thankless job with the bullly boss and looked out the window to see three big guys in hoods and those stupid pants they wear down around their knees lounging on the lawn furniture shooting up and holding one of the cats by the tail.
I forgive you for asking me to prepare food for you to take to a party to which I was not invited taking place somewhere in the life you were making for yourself—the rather fully articulated life you were making for yourself as it turned out—apart from me. By the way, I was finally getting hip to what was going on–I spit in the casserole and undercooked the fucking ham, or at least that’s what I like to think I did now.
I forgive you for taking my grandmother’s silver to the Goodwill store, and I understand that it was just one of a variety of ways you were saying the same thing over and over to me without having to draw on your limited store of language.
I forgive you for observing with the same dreamy interest with which you might watch fish in a tank my struggles to lift or move or haul up steep stairs heavy household things like furniture–I understand that it would have been too much trouble to offer to help and that it might have set some sort of burdensome precedent.
I forgive you for thinking physical affection was entirely unnecessary after marriage, though apparently that was something I forgave you for early on, and I understand the difficulty of moving beyond a thirteen year old’s view of sex, which is something that I’m sure Tonga and Lulu and Asian Pearl and Backstreet Babycake understand too.
I forgive you taking as your due every floor and wall and ceiling I scrubbed or laundry I washed or shirt I ironed for you or tub I scoured or dinner I made or lunch I packed for you to take to work until you could afford for yourself more extravagant kinds of lunches enjoyed with kingly leisure and people who still had good backs and could afford superior cosmetics.
I forgive you for permanently damaging my Japanese knife by using it to saw off several inches of a Christmas tree. Here’s a tip for your new household: use the right tool for the job. Now that I think about it, that was the last time we ever had a Christmas tree. I’m not sure why it took so many years of ruined holidays for me to appreciate your talent for preventing things from happening that you didn’t want to happen by idly fucking them up.
I forgive you for not loving me. I don’t know why I loved you or why I wanted you to love me, but I did. I don’t know why I kept waiting for you to love me. I might as well have spent my time digging for iridium in the yard or signaling to aliens with a penlight and yes I know it was my own damn fault for staying with you for thirty damn years until I was entirely too tired and used up and old to have any hope that there might be some man somewhere in the world who might actually love me and be happy to have a life with me instead of the gnawed off tail of a life you left me with.
I forgive you for refusing to clear out when I told you to clear out after I discovered even more extensive romantic correspondence with Adorianna or Muffaletta or Hootie or Miss Pinky or whatever additional girlfriend experiences you were having at the time.
I forgive you for sitting up big and broad and enjoying yourself in the center of my rather less enjoyable life for as long as it took for you to make better arrangements for yourself.
For all these things and all the things like them, I forgive you and hope you have a happy life.
But for all the other things you did–for the really bad unspeakable shit you did–well, I haven’t managed to work my mind around to forgiving you for those things yet.
tornado image:NOAA photo library http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/700s/nssl0210.jpg