I buried her out in the garden behind the house. I know that’s where she’d want to stay. Hamlet has hardly left her grave. He whimpers every night for her, but she never wakes up.
Oh, Peter, I am so sorry. I can’t even begin to express how terribly feel. You left me in charge of your wife. The last thing you said to me was to take care of her, and I have failed you in the worst possible manner.
It’s this shame that has prevented me from writing for so long. Elise died on the twenty-seventh of March, and I’ve been unable to bring myself to tell you. I started writing a thousand letters, but they all came out wrong.
She loved you, Peter. Elise truly loved you. A darkness had settled over her these last few years, but that wasn’t because of you. She hated herself for feeling any sadness when she had you, and she was grateful for every moment with you.
Elise wasn’t meant for immortality. Eternity had never set well with her, and the longer she lived, the more it seemed to eat away at her.
That is the one blessing in all of this. Elise never wanted to do anything to hurt you. She never wanted to leave you. But I think she might find some solace in death that she was unable to find in life.
I hope the opposite is true for you. I hope that you can find some happiness in life, even without Elise. May her love comfort you in the years you have ahead of you. Her heart is always with you, of that I am certain.
With my deepest sympathies-
November 12, 1863
My Elise, my love, my true, my only.
I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. It’s not that I believe that you can get letters in heaven. I’ve been unable to stop talking to you, even though I know that you’re no longer there. I spent so long telling you all my thoughts and hopes and fears, and a little thing like death won’t stand in my way.
Catherine sent me a letter, telling me what happened, and I didn’t even read it through. As soon as I opened it, I knew something was the matter. My hands trembled so badly, I could scarcely read it. When I saw the words Elise is dead, the world fell away from me. Everything went black.
Then I heard screaming. This horrible, tortured yelling so loud it hurt my ears. It took me a moment to realize that it was coming from me.
My vision blurred so badly from the tears, I couldn’t see anything at all. I knelt on the floor, my hands clutching my sides, and I’m not sure how long I stayed that way. I might still be that way if not for Ezra.
“Peter, it’s alright,” Ezra said, and he wrapped his arms around me.
I fought him, though I’m not sure why. I hit and kicked at him, but he wouldn’t let me go. He held me tightly to him, without saying a word, until my wailing and fighting had stopped.
Eventually, after a great while, my body simply gave up. I lay limply against him, unable to move or think or cry. A numbness had settled over my body and my brain, and for that I was grateful, but I wished it had reached my heart.
My heart had been torn to shreds. Nothing even compared to the pain I felt, to the pain I still feel. It’s a gaping wound inside my soul, a horrible burning torture that never ceases.
It’s strange because I’ve grown fond of the constant pain. It’s the only thing I have left of you, like I am carrying you inside me.
There are moments even still where I think that I’m alright. Not alright in the way I was before, but if another person saw me, they would think that I was alive. I can pretend at least to exist, even though there’s nothing inside me.
I’ll be doing something menial, like washing my clothes or helping Ezra with paperwork, and then it will hit me. This sudden realization that you aren’t alive, that I won’t ever see your smiling face, or touch your soft skin again.
The hole inside me is ripped open anew, and my knees give out. I collapse to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. And there is nothing I can do to stop it. It comes in waves, whenever it pleases, and it only fades when I became too weak.
Many nights I awake with fresh tears on my face, my throat raw from screaming. I don’t remember it, and I suppose it is better that way.
Ezra watches me constantly and almost never leaves my side. He fears I will do something rash, something to end my own life, and he is right to worry that way. I want nothing more than to be with you in the next life, or at the very least, end the loneliness of this one. How can I be if you aren’t?
But it’s the look on Ezra’s face, the broken terror simply thinking about a life without me that keeps me here. I am still bound to him. The small part of me that didn’t belong to you still belongs to him. He is my maker, my friend, my brother, and I cannot leave him, no matter how much it pains me to stay.
The first month without you was a horrible blur of blackness. I did nothing. I couldn’t. I lay in bed, refusing to eat, to move, to breathe. Ezra sat by my bedside. When I’d gone too long without eating, he poured his own blood into a goblet, and forced me to drink it.
I could taste his love, and his terror over what had become of me. It was that that pulled me out of bed.
I died when you died, Elise. I feel that absolutely in my heart. I even know the moment you left this earth. When I was walking on the street, my heart ripped in two, and I threw up on the cobblestones. That was the moment you died. I know that now.
Every moment since then, I’ve existed. I do the things other living creatures do – I talk, I breathe, I go about my day. People see me, and they think that I am live. But it’s all an illusion, a parlor trick. I am not here.