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“I hate you. I never want you near me again, as long as I live. I don’t care about you, I don’t love you, I wouldn’t mind if you died tomorrow. Never call me again, never write to me, never talk to me, never come near me again. Never. You are all that is wrong with my life and I want you out of it forever. And don’t think when we’re twenty or twenty-five or seventy that you can write me some heartfelt letter and we can just put it all behind us. I will never so much as think about you again,” said the love of his life.
The worst part was that she meant every word—meant it more than anything she had ever said. He knew that; he could see the truth and finality of it all in her eyes. She was everything to him, the reason he got out of bed in the morning—but she was gone now, walking away, leaving him with tears in his eyes and sadness in his heart. He did not yell after her, knowing that she would not hear. He simply let it all go, falling to the ground, and asked God to take away the worthless life that had been bestowed upon him. God didn’t hear—either that, or He didn’t care.
So he swore on the name of this God who turned His ear away to forever honor every word that his love had spoken: he would never contaminate her beautiful being with his infectious presence so long as his life remained.
It was done.
And so, on this day, the boy prematurely became a man, swearing to live forever alone, a life without love, a life without purpose—for love is the only true purpose.
The new man walked for miles, stopping for no one, no thing. The long road upon which his feet tread and his mind wandered led him to a man’s home. The sky opened up, and rain fell. He walked up to the door and rang the bell. A man in his mid-fifties, called the Senator, opened the door.
“Hello,” said the Senator.
“I need a place where I can stay dry, lest I get sick and die, while the life that I have lived will not merit from my love even a small sigh,” he said.
The Senator’s face lit up and he laughed a most boisterous laugh, “You speak in rhyme, my dreary friend!”
“No sir,” he said, “I but echo the words in my heart.”
“Son, you can come on in,” the Senator smiled, wrapping a large arm around our forlorn traveler. “You see, I’m a senator for this here state, and I am in need of a speech writer. I want to speak, not so much with prose, but with poetry. Would you be able to aid me in this pursuit?”
“I can try, sir,” said he, unconcerned with the task that had been offered to him, thinking only of what she might say. She had always enjoyed politics, and she wrote beautiful poetry. He thought that, perhaps, an effort in both fields could atone for his sins, atone for the heart broken by his unworthy hands.
The Senator asked him to write; and oh, did he write. He turned a discussion of the economy into a tale of greed and deceit; it is overcome only by a cool, guiding hand which saves both those innocent and guilty from crisis. He wrote poems and stories which the Senator spoke to masses across the nation. He brought change and improvement to a country about which he cared naught and hoped nothing for. He brought smiles to the faces of people whom were enjoying lives which he had sworn never to live. He sent out hope from his pen, held by a hand which knew none.
One day, when the Senator was no longer the Senator but the Secretary of State, he walked into the office and saw the man sitting with a pen in hand, staring out the window in deep thought.
“Finding the brilliant words with which I shall bring peace to our neighbors?”
“No,” he replied. “I need not look for that; I need only to put my pen to paper to find those words.”
“Then in what are your thoughts so uniquely committed?”
“I am thinking of a friend lost, and with her my love, and with that love, my life.”
Later that evening, the Secretary of State spoke to warring neighbors the words which had been written for him, “You have all lost so many friends. And with those friends you have lost their love, and feel as if with that love you have lost a great part of your life—perhaps your entire life. The love which you still hold for them is turned to hate which has led to the great war which continues to ravage your homes, cities and towns. I ask you to recall those whom you have lost, and the love which you felt for them. This is the love that others feel for you. Is it worth losing, is it worth turning their love into the hate which already commands your very being? I do not ask you to love your enemy. I ask you to love your friend. Stop fighting, for her. End this conflict so that she has someone to love and is not forced to hate.”
So it was that the great war came to an end. With it, the man decided, should his life as a poet.
He left without saying good-bye. He felt nothing for the Secretary because he felt little at all.
Again he walked down a long road and again he remembered. He remembered the time when she had walked with him, through glorious springs and harsh winters. Flowers and snow meant nothing to him now; for nothing outside can be beautiful if that within is dark and desolate.
The road led him this time to the doors of a hospital. It was very hot and the sun shone mercilessly. He entered the emergency room and a doctor hurried to him.
“Do you need help?” The doctor asked.
“Only a place where I get out of the heat, which pervades even my senses and soul.”
“You are welcome to remain here, but you must leave the emergency room as an ambulance will be arriving shortly.”
And so he walked down a hall and entered a room. There lay a man dying, named Harry. Harry was alone.
“Please,” Harry said, “Hold my hand while I die.”
He walked forward without fear, sadness or disgust. Harry was merely another person—one about to be set free from the misery that was life. He grasped Harry’s hand and said, “Go now in peace, to a place where you will be loved eternally.”
Harry died, peacefully and in company.
He did not think twice about the words which he spoke, nor about the man to whom he had spoken them. His thoughts were occupied only by death and the fact that he could never die.
For to die, he thought, one must leave a void, one must leave someone behind. To die, he mused, you must cause at least one to cry. And thus, he thought as he walked out of the hospital no longer bothered by the heat, I cannot die. The thought was of no comfort to a man whose whole life was focused on how it was lost before it could even begin.
He walked until he could walk no further because he was blocked by a short line. A few lost men stood in the slow moving line, but in time he was at the front, and said, “What is this line for?”
“Why,” a man named Kyle responded, “It is a line for the candidates for governor, waiting to make their speeches. It is your turn.”
He walked up onto the stage and was greeted by silence. No one knew who he was. A short boy named Liam yelled out, “Who are you?”
“I am but a lost man,” he responded. “In a lost land where people are guided by those lost even more than they themselves. People want to live, love and be free, but they are afraid because those lost men in front tell them to be so. But don’t be afraid. It is fear that leads to the loss of life, love and freedom. Never be afraid—meet everything and everyone with your entire being, with your entire loving. And you will be happy, as will all whom you touch.”
The crowd cheered and did not stop cheering until election day, on which he was elected governor. As governor, he made the state great by helping the poor, teaching the children, giving jobs to the adults. His good works seeped into the states around his until it had gone so far that people all over the country shouted in unison, “This man should be President!”
And he was made so.
The people admired his courage.
“Why are you not afraid of our ruthless enemy?” they asked.
“Because there is nothing to fear. Stay with each other; trust each other and you will be happy.” Of course he was not afraid, for he knew that he could not die. He cared not for the people who trusted him, but he cared for the love which they had for one another and the lives which they had—lives that he could never hope for. That is why he protected them.
A fierce enemy from a far off land said to him, “I will murder all of your people if you do not surrender.”
To this he replied, “I do not surrender because the choice is not mine. It is theirs, and as long as they live and love, they will not surrender and they cannot be defeated. And so long as you and your followers try to kill them, you will fail again and again, until the day you take death’s hand.” The tyrant ran in fear.
The people admired his help for the sick and poor.
“Why do you help these who do nothing for our society?” They asked.
“Because they do so much for society. Perhaps they carry not the weight of industry, but they carry the weight of misery. I must work to lessen that weight, and so must you,” he said.
The people admired his call for peace and love.
As his presidency came to a close they asked, “Who do you love, great leader?”
“But one,” he said.
“Who?” they called out.
“I swore never to contaminate her life again. By but speaking her name I would defame it; by writing her name, I would poison it.”
“Who can this person be, so great that even you are not worthy of her?”
He said nothing for a moment and then said sadly what he had always believed: “If greatness is judged by the worthiness to be loved by her, then I am the saddest, most deplorable creature that this earth has ever seen.”
And with that he left the office of the presidency and walked once more.
As he walked he longed for her more than he had during any previous time throughout his life. His longing was like that of one who longs for another who is dead; it was a thirst that could be quenched by nothing but his own death.
He knew now that the people loved him. To him this meant only that he could die.
As he walked he did not begin to die—that process had begun at birth—but he finished dying. As he lay on the side of the lonely road where his journey had begun he took out pen and paper.
“I swore never to contact her in life,” he said. “Now that I am at death, I shall send her my good-bye. I just hope that she will read it.”
And he wrote the last thoughts he would ever have:
I am so very sorry. I wronged you as no one, least of all you, deserves to be wronged. The pain with which I have lived my life is nowhere near the pain that I deserve for hurting you. I thank you for giving me a glimpse of what all should strive to be. I strove to earn your love. You graced me with it, but I was a fool and sinned, destroying this gift. That is my great sin. I ask not for your forgiveness, only for you to know this: All that I have ever done, I have done for you. All that I am, I am for you. By touching all whom I touched, I did so hoping only to touch you. My heart, my soul and my being are wholly yours. I do not expect you to accept such a meager offering. I pray only for you to realize that I am forever yours.
All my love,
And the man died.