I was in love with you from the very beginning. You were kind, considerate, chivalrous, thoughtful, and the list goes on and on. I admired you from afar, too afraid to confront you in person, and every day I dreamt of what life would be like if you could only see me. To you, I was invisible; you saw me every day, but you were merely looking—never seeing. I was nothing to you. But even so, I never loved you any less.
After a trying week of many conflicts and struggles, it was plain to see that you were being troubled by something and I decided to write you an anonymous letter in hopes of curing your spirits. I quietly watched a smile appear on your lips as your expression softened. Any traces of sorrow that had once been present on your face slunk back into the shadows, cursing the satisfaction of simple joys for casting them away.
After opening the neatly folded sheet of notebook paper that I had stealthily slipped into your binder that morning, you surprised me by flattening out the creases in the paper, taking delicate care of it before sliding it into the clear plastic covering your binder, for the whole world to see. You smiled to yourself and that was that. My heart did a little flip as I walked my normally monotonous morning walk to first period French class that day; I carried with me a smile in my heart and a light that was flickering within me.
Now, I never really planned to continue writing these letters to you, but I overheard you talking with your friends one day, explaining to them how you couldn’t stop thinking about the letter and how you wished you could find the girl behind it. I became nervous at first that you would find me out and just think I was straight up weird for doing that, but I later caught you staring at the letter after a particularly rough day, and all I saw was peace. At that point, I had fallen for you hard; all I wanted to do was give you happiness like that all the time. Thus I wrote you a second letter, which then turned into a third, which turned into a fourth, and so on. I just couldn’t stop writing them. I couldn’t stop seeing your smile—it was the only thing that kept me going.
Day after day you anticipated a letter from me. If I would go too long before delivering another one, I would hear you disappointedly remarking to your friends, saying that you think I might have forgotten about you. But I could never forget about you. You were my world.
My letters were soon referred to as “The Smile Series”. The school paper even did a story about it. The entire school knew about it, but because there was no one in that school that I could trust, no one knew my secret. There was a sense of intensity that came with carrying a secret so big and I was sure that someone would eventually crack my identity. You almost found out once, but my poker face was well trained…my hand was full of secrets that you would never be able to know.
I had considered coming out and telling everyone the truth about my identity, but at that point I was already too late. No one would believe me; they would all think I was just some lonely girl who wanted attention. You see, since people didn’t know the truth about who I was, they all started to assume. Everyone, including you, thought it was the same girl. And that girl wasn’t me. That girl was one of your best friends and the girl you had been convicted of having strong feelings for in the past and vice versa. Being so, there was no doubt that she welcomed the assumptions—you were one of the only decent guys at our school…there was no way she would pass that up.
Little by little, you fell for her. But you fell for her solely because of who you thought she truly was by the letters. My letters. You fell in love with me and you didn’t even know it.
I loved so much that you were in love with my letters that I didn’t think you could ever love me the same when you found out my true identity. So I kept writing the letters and let you believe I was someone else. And she certainly had no problem at all with keeping our little unspoken and unacknowledged secret.
Not one bit.
Two years after you had graduated was the year that the girl you loved and the girl you thought you loved graduated. You came and saw me get my diploma, but the reason you came was to see her. I saw the way that you looked at her, and it was then that I knew how much your love for her had grown; and it was all because of my letters. Even if I knew it was all a lie, which needless to say, I did, I couldn’t bring myself to impose and tear you two apart. It was hard for me, but by that point, I had learned how to wear a mask and just deal with the pain that came with it.
Four years later, your wedding day came, and I knew I was far too long overdue. You were about to marry into a lie because I didn’t have the courage to simply tell you the truth. I had single-handedly destroyed any chance I had ever had of being with you, but like I had for seven years, I still loved you. And because I loved you, I felt like you needed the truth.
I labored for hours trying to find the right words to write in the last letter of The Smile Series, but it was much more painful than I had initially anticipated. After an infinite amount of stationary paper and mangled emotions, I finally sketched out the final words to the final letter:
“I know that I have waited far too long to say this, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, but I am not who you think I am. The girl you are about to marry is not the girl who has written you letters all these years. I know I should have told you this before, but you were so happy and I didn’t think you could be as happy if you found out who I really was. Because I loved you, and because I still do, I want you to have everything you deserve. You deserve happiness and the truth. And I’m sorry I didn’t give you the truth when I should have.
Because I have now done more damage than should have been necessary, I am going to offer you a final congratulations and my best wishes for your future.
You will always be in my heart.
God bless you.”
On that rainy summer day of your wedding, I sat in the very last pew and watched her float down the aisle like a princess. I watched your troubled eyes look sadly at her as she said her vows. My heart was breaking into a million pieces and I just wanted to start my new life away from this place right then. My bags were already packed and ready to go. All I had to do was walk out of the chapel, and I would be able to escape this pain-filled town forever. But something was holding me back. I had to make sure you were happy after I had lied to you for so many years. Once you said “I do”, I would know you were going to be okay.
A tear streamed down my cheek as I waited for those words to come from your lips. I anticipated with my eyes closed in hopes of not exploiting the rest of my tears, but all I heard from you was “I can’t”. The crowd gasped and my eyes shot up at you. I stared at you from the last row, and you stared at me. You gazed at me with such intensity, and I became so overcome with emotion that I ran from the chapel. I ran from the people. I ran from my mistakes. I ran from my fears. I ran from nothing. And I ran from everything.
Sometimes I wish I could say that I ran away. I wish I could say that you somehow found me and showed up at my doorstep, holding me in your arms, telling me that there was no way you could ever be unhappy knowing that I wrote the letters; telling me that you would love me until the day the Devil ruled all that was good and God was not all powerful.
But there’s no need to wish that.
You didn’t do all that when you showed up on my doorstep.
You did it all before I even left the parking lot.
My Dearest Love,
I cannot seem to stay asleep. Lying next to you usually entrances me into the unconscious, but you are not here tonight. You are with our children, on a plane to Paris to get a head start on our vacation before I follow you up in a couple of days. Oh, I wish I was there with you right now. My heart hurts as I sit here, alone in our house, no longer hearing the pitter patter of little feet or the sweet hum of your voice.
I’ve always loved the sound of your voice.
Do you remember when we were back in high school? You may think that I didn’t notice you, but I did. And I loved your voice just as much then as I do now. You see, I have always loved you, though I may not have known exactly how much until I realized that I could lose you.
Do you remember that day? That was the day that you gave me your last letter. That was the day that you saved me from making the biggest mistake of my life. I can remember that day like it was yesterday because I almost didn’t marry you. I almost married someone that I did not truly love. Someone who had deceived me. The emotions of that day stand so clear in my memory, from reading your letter, to standing at the altar, to running after you in the rain.
You probably remember it, but let me tell you how it was from my perspective…
It was approximately 10am on that drizzly summer morning as I sat in my dressing room adjusting my bowtie. It was an awful pink color that was absolutely hideous in every way, but I wore it because my fiancé asked me to. And I was about to marry her.
A very unpleasant squeezing sensation twisted at my heart, attempting to suffocate me. But this was not the kind of sensitivity that one feels when they are in love. Oh no, this was the kind of feeling that one feels when they are about do something terribly wrong. But I wasn’t doing anything wrong, was I?
I tried to shake the feeling off, but I just couldn’t quite let go of the pit in my stomach that formed every time I thought of her.
It’s just my nerves, I kept telling myself, it’s just the beginning of cold feet. It will pass…
A soft flutter of paper by the door took my attention away from my thoughts, saving me from my doubts for the time being. Through the mirror I saw that something had been slid under the door. As I proceeded from my place at the mirror, still trying to fix my bowtie, I realized what it was that had made its way into my dressing room. A letter.
When the full realization hit me as to what it was, I stopped messing with my impossible collar and bent down to pick it up. My name was written in the most elegant calligraphy on the envelope and I knew exactly who it was from. Or at least, I thought that I did.
I settled into the armchair in the far corner of the room and opened the envelope with great care. As I unfolded the letter, a feeling of lovely anticipation rose from the bottom of my stomach, spreading to all of my appendages. I loved that feeling. I hadn’t felt it in a while, but I was very fond of it. I was very fond of it, indeed.
My eyes scanned the words all the way down the page, expecting that my fiancé had written some encouraging words to me rid myself of feelings of cold feet. I read every word individually, giving equal attention to each one. I reread the entire letter four times and I could not believe what I was reading
A lie. It was all a lie.
A flood of despair washed over my body. What was I going to do? This was all wrong! I couldn’t marry my fiancé today under false pretenses, but I couldn’t embarrass her either. This would truly be the greatest embarrassment of all. I could not make her go through that…
I gently folded up the letter with shaking hands and leaned my head against the back of the chair. I closed my eyes and just sat there, thinking. Obviously I love her if I am going to marry her, so the real question is why.
Why do I love her?
My mind searched diligently for the answer, but every reason I thought of was based on the letters. The letters that she didn’t really bless me with. The letters that you wrote. My mind spun inside my skull, pounding behind my eyes. I was so confused. What was I going to do? This was all too much!
An hour passed, but it only seemed like a second. There was a knock at the door and all of a sudden I was walking down the hall to the chapel. Everything was a blur. Until I saw you. I stood right outside of the entrance to the front of the chapel from the hall, still so unsure of what I was going to do. Everyone was inside, waiting for me to make an appearance so that they could usher the bride into position for her walk down the aisle. I looked up for a split second and there you were. You quietly set your dripping umbrella off to the side, away from the others’ and shrugged out of your jacket.
You were unbelievably beautiful.
You wore your hair down in soft curls and wore a simple, yet elegant, purple dress that fell to your knees and flowed about your body as you walked. I couldn’t breathe as I looked at you and I felt something that I had only ever felt while reading your letters. It was then that I realized who I really loved. It wasn’t my fiancé, it was you. I realized that everything I loved about the girl I was going to marry was everything that I had learned from the letters.
Disappearing through the doors, you left me alone with my confusion. As if I was a mere pawn in a giant game of chess, I strode into the chapel, barely aware of my actions as a thousand eyes bored into my soul. I felt as though I was a lone puppet, being controlled by the puppet master with every step I took. My thoughts troubled me and my heart jumped into my throat as she glided down the aisle towards me. I knew what I had to do, but my tongue was glued to roof of my mouth and I had no idea how I was going to be able to speak. All I wanted was to run away from all of this—all I wanted was to run to you.
The ceremony progressed with ferocious speed and all of a sudden, it was time for me to choose which pair of words I would say. There were only two choices, but their meanings were anything but simple. Everyone was waiting for me to say “I do” and seal the deal once and for all. But the deal would be a lie. I didn’t love her and it would be more unfair to her—and to you—if I were to marry her now without real love than to end it now and spare her from thinking that I had feelings for her that I truly did not.
I felt a bead of sweat trickle down the back of my neck as I tried to muster up the courage to say what I needed to say. I looked into the eyes of the girl whose heart I was getting ready to break and then dropped her hands from my grasp. Her brows furrowed in confusion and I cast my eyes down, not bearing to watch her face a second longer.
I was surprised at hearing my own voice. For some reason, I was thinking that I wasn’t going to be the one to say it. But I was. And even as I said it, I was looking at you in your spot on the last bench of the chapel. Your eyes widened as you lifted your head to look at me. I watched as a single tear slipped down your cheek and my heart broke for you. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what you were feeling just then.
Before anything else happened, you got up from your place in the last row and slipped through the doors. Without thinking, I chased after you. All I knew was that I loved you and I couldn’t let you slip away like I had so many times before.
The rain was falling intensely as I crashed through the doors and ran into the parking lot, getting closer to you with every step I took. When I reached you, I took a hold of your arm and turned you to me. Your tears blended in with the droplets of rain that drenched your face and I wanted more than anything to make it better.
For a minute, I just stood there looking at you—taking you in. I said your name softly through the sheets of rain that separated us and brushed my fingers across your cheek. You closed your eyes and the tears flowed with even more vigor. I didn’t like it when you cried like that. Instinctively, I reached for you, gently guiding you into my arms. As you cried into my shoulder, I whispered simple truths into your ear; I apologized for my blindness to the truth and for the immense pain I had caused you. I told you every little thing that I loved about you—every little thing that I had ever noticed about you throughout all my years of knowing you.
I hope that you know, my love, how true those things still are today. I hope you know that you are my world and that you are my rock. I can only hope that I am as strong for you as you are for me.
Before I end this letter, I want to take a moment to let you know that every day, my love for you grows stronger and deeper than it was the day before. You never fail to make me fall in love with you all over again, every single day.
I hope that you know how much you mean to me, my angel, because if it weren’t for you, we would be in very different places right now, and I would be miserable, knowing that I had let you slip away for good. I cannot say that you would not be happy though, because you probably would have found a good man who would adore you just as much as I do, but I can say that I would not be happy. I could never be happy without you…I could never be complete without you. And if you ask me why, I will tell you.
I will tell you that it’s because you are my angel. You are my angel and you saved me.
And now I am forever yours.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my Love.
Sincerely and passionately,
Your Adoring Husband