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Cruel to Be Kind
“And he’s not returning my calls!!! I’ve called him and called him and I’ve called him! He’s never told me that we’re over yet and he’s never told me that he hates me ---“
“----but he’s constantly telling me about the girls who flirt with him and how they’re always so hot and ----“
“----and he’s always telling me he no longer cares about me and he’s never there for me anymore when I need him to be!”
“WHAT?!” Her frown trembled even though she masked her feelings quite well.
“I think . . .” Harry sighed. “I think you need to see this.”
Harry passed her a very thin piece of yellowish paper.
“W-what is this?” she asked.
Now it was Harry’s turn to turn kettle-red. He raised his eyebrows and looked so serious that Angie could hardly even tell it was her friend anymore.
“It’s a page from Eli’s diary. I should’ve showed you this a long time ago. I’m sorry I’ve waited this long. He had told me not to tell you, but, it’s not fair for you to have to go through this.”
Angie slowly took the paper in her hands and began reading it, trying to decipher one word at a time for the writing was incredibly sloppy.
I have never really given any thought to all those people with certain sicknesses and how much it must hurt their family to see them dying a slow death. I mean, most of them are not even aware that they’re hurting the ones they love, but just imagine if they were aware, what would they do? Of course they wouldn’t want their loved crying over them, spending many sleepless nights trying to nurture them and care of them for the rest of their short lives if it deprived them of their time and happiness. If the sickened one could do something about it, what would they do? Would the sickened one tell their loved ones to just leave them alone and let them be? To let them die themselves while their loved ones actually enjoy their life and continue to be happy instead of having to grieve? It sounds like a reasonable plan to me. Well, I’m sorry Angie, I really do love you, but I need to do this. I’m doing this for you. I don’t want to be missed and I don’t want to be helped. You would be doing me a huge favor if you just forgot about me completely and found someone else to love, just like you've loved me. You're love meant everything to me, Angie, and never forget that. I thank God each and every day for giving me something so wonderful as you. So please forgive me for this, and for everything I’ve done wrong in our relationship. Just please always remember that even though it may not look like I’m there with you, I will always be with you no matter what. And if I am also wrong in doing this to you, forgive me, but please just remember that I’m doing this all, like I said, because I love you.
Angie grabbed her lip and started pinching it as she usually did when nervous. She ever so slightly looked up as she was taking deep breaths in order for her not to burst out into tears. She could not look at Harry in the face. Looking at him hurt too.
“Angie. So now do you understand what he’s doing? Why he’s treating you this way?” asked Eli.
Now Angie had burning eyes and a heart that felt so heavy she started wondering if she was drowning slowly, if she was dying, maybe had been hit with an arrow, the wrong arrow, not the cupid’s. Maybe there was no such thing as a cupid. Maybe there was no point to those vows one makes before getting married “in sickness and in health.” Well, Angie was not about to part with Eli until death. She didn’t care if he was dying or not, she still needed to know that he loved her, that he still wanted her in his life.
“Angie,” said Eli. “He still loves you. But he’s treating you this way because . . . .” Eli’s voice trailed off. Now it was his turn to take deep and fast-paced breaths. Then, after a few minutes, he was able to drown out his quivering voice just enough to finish his sentence. “He thinks . . . he thinks that he needs to be . . . . .“ Eli had to think of the right words to use for this. “. . . . .that he needs to be . . . . Cruel to be kind, because he knows he’s dying and he doesn’t want you to miss him when he's gone.”
Angie’s face turned red and her chin wrinkled up. She suddenly grabbed a hold of Harry and squeezed him as she began crying loud and hard upon his shoulder. Startled, but realizing how wonderful it felt to have her hugging him, he gently stroked her hair out of her tear-streaked face and softly whispered to her: “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK. I’ll take care of you and that’s a promise.”
North Bay Village, Florida
Grand Rapids, Michigan
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