The night Amelia knocked on my window, I had begged God to kill me. I didn’t think I could survive another day with the pain in my heart.
A year earlier, I had a perfect life. I was happily married to a man I adored and with whom I shared six-month-old twins. But one day I came home from work and Peter told me the news. He was leaving me.
«But we are happy!» I protested. «I don’t understand…»
«Look, Marissa,» he said coldly. «I waited until the boys were born and you were more settled, but the truth is, there’s someone else. »
«Someone else?» I couldn’t believe my ears. «For how long?»
Peter looked ashamed. «A little over a year.»
«I was pregnant with your babies, and you were having an affair?» I gasped.
«It doesn’t matter now,» he said. «It’s over, okay? You can keep the house…»
«Home?» I shouted. «The house is falling apart around us! You promised we were going to renovate it, put in a new furnace…»
«I’m not spending my money on this!» he said. «I’ve given you twelve years of my life; you won’t get another minute — or a dime!»
He walked away and left me with two children to support and no one to help me. That night I called my mom and asked her to come to Texas and stay with me for a while.
I needed her help. I was struggling to juggle work and raising six-month-old babies while battling depression.
In no time at all, my mom made everything go smoothly, and I was able to focus on the promotion I was hoping to get. My boss called me into his office and told me the news: I had the promotion and a big raise!
I went home happy for the first time since Peter left me. I knew my luck was changing, that I was finally on my way to a new and happier life. I was so wrong.
As I turned down my street, I saw several fire trucks surrounded by firefighters dragging hoses. They were directing them to a house engulfed in flames.
It was my house, where I had left my mother and sons. I started screaming and tried to run into the flames, but someone held me back. I don’t know how that night ended.
I don’t remember anything but the funeral, those little coffins beaten by the rain, with my mother’s coffin next to them. I had nothing to live for.
I was told later that the boiler blew up, the same one that Peter had promised to replace. I should have done it, but I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I forgot.
This negligence cost me my family. I could never forgive myself for my carelessness. I quit my job, took the insurance money from my house and bought a small house in a small town where no one knew me.
I wanted to disappear, to be invisible, and I succeeded until the night Amelia knocked on my window. I was curled up on my couch, lost in my grief, when I heard the sound of knuckles on glass.
I jumped up, ran to the window and found myself facing a white, frightened face. It was the face of an old woman with soft, cotton-white hair.
I opened the door and ran out into the garden.
«Hello,» I said softly to the woman who had huddled under my window.
«Are you looking for someone? It’s cold out here. Why don’t you come in?»
I took the woman’s frail hand in mine and led her inside.
«What’s your name?» I asked after sitting her on my couch. «Where do you live?»
The woman gave me the sweetest childish smile. «My name is Amelia,» she said. «Who are you?»
«My name is Marissa,» I replied with a smile. «Where do you live?»
Amelia said, «I live with my mom and dad in the house by the church.»
«Oh,» I said. «Sure, let me get you some milk and cookies, and I’ll take you home, okay?»
My heart broke for poor Amelia. I had considered memory my curse; now I saw what losing it could do.
I imagined losing the memory of my mother’s smile and the sweet smell of my babies in my arms. I could have the agony of loss, but I also had the blessing of their memory.
I closed my eyes and sent up a prayer.
«Thank you, Lord,» I whispered. I knew now that I could let go of the pain without letting go of the love.
I placed a light shawl around Amelia’s shoulders and walked her down the street to the house next to the church. I knocked on the door and heard the noise and chatter of the children.
A tall man opened the door. «Mom!» he shouted as soon as he saw Amelia. «Where have you been?»
«It’s all right,» I told him. «Amelia was lost, but I brought her home.»
«Thank you!» the man said, and I saw that he had kind eyes. «It’s my fault, I didn’t notice she was gone, but with five kids…»
«You have five children?» I asked. «You and your wife are very lucky!»
«My wife passed away,» he said. «It’s been a year, but… I can’t get over it.»
«I know how you feel,» I said, touching his hand. «But I’ve learned that we have to let go of the pain and keep only the love.»
He smiled for the first time, and I saw how attractive he was.
«My name is Victor,» he said. «Come on in, have dinner with us!» To my surprise, I found myself accepting his invitation.
His children were adorable, and I had a wonderful time. I asked Victor’s permission to take Amelia for a walk, and he agreed. Little by little, we all became closer.
A month later, we were having a picnic, and I saw Victor looking at me with a special light in his eyes.
«Marissa,» he said softly. «Will you have dinner with me? Just me!»
I agreed, and exactly one year after our first date, Victor and I were married. Amelia was happy as always, and the kids were thrilled. I have a secret: Victor doesn’t know it yet, but we are having a baby. I will never forget my lost family, but I have learned to live, love and hope again.