Dear Elizabeth

by Peter Berube

Dear Elizabeth,
I hope this letter finds you well. It has been quite some time since we last spoke. Unfortunately, if you are receiving this, I have passed, and these will be my last words to you. I apologize. Timing was never my strongest suit. While the contents of the enclosed package may be alarming, I hope they do note upset you, or make you feel as if you were deceived in some way. My intentions are unclear, even to myself, hence the delay in their delivering. I spent the entirety of my life promising myself I would never send these letters. Oddly enough this is the first time I have written to you with the intention of you actually reading my words. While in the hospital these past few days, I could not find the courage to throw these pieces of my history away. They belong to you. It may only be the fantasies of a delusional man swept up in the delights of the mind, but it was the only truth I have known.
Goodbye my dearest, Elizabeth. May your loving heart find all the joy it seeks. Sincerely,
Your friend Joseph Crown

January 5th, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
Your smile shakes me to the core. Such bold words I have never written before in my lifetime. Words I never thought possible to feel while writing, and inspired by something so brief. I had to write it down to get it out of my system. Today you sang for our friend Mia’s birthday. While I had seen your picture before, it did not prepare me for being in your presence. What an overwhelming and intoxicating glow you have. I would be cliche were I to say it was love at first sight. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling which aches in my chest more powerfully than some of my fondest moments with other women I believed that I loved. I only wish I had met you before Olivia. You and I got along so well today. What a dreadful waste of such a robust chemistry. It will be hard to forget it.

February 16th, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
You sparked a very dangerous flame today which opened my eyes, and now I can’t close them. Olivia and I have been fighting a lot recently. Our mismatch as a couple over these many years is becoming too large a beast to ignore. I have successfully neglected these thoughts until today. This is something of which I don’t know whether I should be proud or embarrassed. I asked you if you would join me for a nighttime walk through the wilderness, something Olivia regards in me as madness. Not only did you agree, but you jumped in excitement. This may sound simple to most, but it was an emotion I never thought could be associated with this hobby of mine. I know I must leave Olivia. Not to run off and be with you, but because I see how much I have lost myself in the foggy nature of other people’s dreams. Today you set me free. I know I can somehow be loved for who I am.

February 23rd, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
Today, we snuck out onto your fire escape. You made me coffee. We drank it, and watched the sunset, just the two of us. I know you may not have intended this moment to be nearly this romantic or intimate. It may all have been a series of miraculously well- timed components coalescing together. You may have just been making a wonderful gesture as a friend. Even so, this was a breathtaking moment I feel only I will remember.

March 9th, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
I’ve been dragged into your world, and now I am lost. Olivia was gone for this week, and you called me out for an adventure. Your friend Rachel was in town, and you wanted me to come out dancing. While at first, I was overtaken with joy from your invitation, when I arrived my heart faltered when you began the night talking about a boy you liked. I wonder if he thinks about you the same way that I do. To make the delirious endeavor more complicated, you spent most of the night attempting to set me up with your friend. I feel I should apologize for my quiet demeanor. It was not out of shyness, but out of the fact that it was you that I wanted. I drank my cocktail, and watched you dance with a number of other men on the dance floor. This aroused in me a truth that I am not equipped to face. I dread that my love which blooms for you is not unique. Were I to ever tell you my feelings, it would simply be a speck of dust amongst the stars. You left me tonight with Rachel and went to bed. I know I should work harder on shutting these feelings down. After a long walk home in reflection, I know now you don’t see how I look at you.

May 13th, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
First of all, thank you for getting me out of the house. The split with Olivia has been more taxing than I anticipated, and your call meant the world to me. Tonight we went out with some friends. I find it endearing how uncomfortable we are around each other when we are forced to behave in a group of people. We bicker and jest like an old married couple, constantly at each other’s throats. My favorite moment tonight is when we escaped, and found our own area to lay with each other. Our bodies touched in several places. I wonder if you noticed. Tonight I think was the closest we have ever come to talking about our feelings. It’s amazing how different we are when we are alone together. Maybe if we could find more time to be alone, these masks we wear would crack. I worry it will never happen. You never say “Yes” to coming out with me. I know what that means. This isn’t math, I can’t prove that we have chemistry. I guess if it was real, this would all be easier. Then again, maybe it’s too real. Too close to home. Which is why it’s so hard. I’ll never know. It’s a secret that’s too dangerous to tell.

June 21st, 2005
Dear Elizabeth,
I have to let you go. While there is nothing inherently harmful in a crush, it is becoming too much for me to handle. I wonder if you think about me. I wonder if you even notice this storm of emotions brewing in my chest when you walk in the room. You’ve made such a wonderful life, you don’t need to be bothered with my feelings. It’s true we should let the things that we love in our life go. You should fly free, and so should I. Our love would only slow us down. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye my dearest, Elizabeth.

November 30th, 2006
Dear Elizabeth,
I’m so glad we got together today. I haven’t felt the need to write one of these letters in such a long time. You popped into my head last week, and I took a chance in seeing you. I’m glad to hear your life is going so well. You and Michael really seem happy. You seem lighter. You smile a lot more. That’s all I ever wanted. I hope I will see more of you. To what end, I don’t know. Maybe there is a way we can be friends, and it will be easy. Only time will tell.

February 28th, 2007
Dear Elizabeth,
At coffee today, there was a moment you looked at me again in that way that you used to. It still shakes me to the core. That split second when I make you laugh. I can see in your eyes, all the walls coming down. There is such a brief moment where I feel you letting me in. I get chills. Today was different. Our gaze locked, and we couldn’t look away. You laughed it off, then excused yourself. It might have been too much. It definitely made the rest of our time in the coffee shop seem stilted and uncomfortable. Then, we went and saw your new home where you’ve started your new life on your own again. Things were really easy there on your couch. We hit our stride. After many wonderful hours together, I left the invitation out there for us to do this more often. I know that you won’t call. You won’t chase. For now, neither will I. I will daydream about this day, but I will not pursue it. I’ve had my heart deflated here too many times. Thank you for the lovely day. I will remember it always.

April 18th, 2008
Dear Elizabeth,
I’m writing to remember this victory. This was the first time your eyes did not bring down my world. I’m in love! The most powerful love I have ever experienced apart from you. Tonight, I brought my girlfriend Amanda, to your show to see you sing. I was ready for you to meet her, and I was proud of the fact that I loved this woman so much, that she made me forget about my feelings for you for so long. I held Amanda in my arms, enjoying your voice, but savoring her company. You still light up the room, and will always be beautiful beyond words to me. Maybe that’s why I could never tell you. The reservoir of feelings I have held for you is so full, it could only be expressed like a flood bursting through the walls of a dam. No one needs that blindsiding, gushing of emotion thrust upon them. I’m happy now. I think I’m finally ready to really let you go.

June 5th, 2010
Dear Elizabeth,
It’s been years since I saw you. Next week I am moving to Chicago, and we will be in the same city again! So much time has passed. Earlier this week, I re-read these letters I have written to you, but have never sent. I have to confess, I am hoping the stars are finally aligning for us to be together. I feel ready to tell you, to take a chance. It finally feels right this time. I’m not going to get my hopes up. I’m just going to do my best to not run away.

August 18th, 2010
Dear Elizabeth,
I finally saw you today. I think I acted too cool. I was trying desperately to just be myself, but I know I was coming off superficially aloof. It was so wonderful to see you today. I still don’t understand how I am so attracted to you. I’ve had all kinds of love, and have been with all kinds of people, but you still draw me in. In the worst, most illogical way, you disarm me with every word. Getting you out of my mind continues to be utterly impossible. I almost hate you for it. This is none of your doing, so I can hardly hold you responsible. What I wouldn’t give to just be normal around you.

August 30th, 2010
Dear Elizabeth,
Today has been churning over in my mind, and I can find no place to land my feet. Do you love me?! Am I mad? Every gesture contains such duality, I have lost trust in all of my senses, and logic. While we were hanging out at my apartment, you were going on about how old you were getting, how you need to wear these certain heels to show off your legs because that’s all you had left. It was staggering to hear that this was the crux of your daily struggle. I am at a loss with trying to comprehend your truth in how you see yourself. You are stunning. I took my chance, and spoke up. I said, “You don’t need them. That’s not what’s beautiful about you.” You looked up at me with watered eyes. I saw the crack in the armor. I saw the sadness. I saw the fear you keep in your heart. Then you ran away. You always run away. Perhaps it’s because you know I can see you, the real you, the one that you hide. Maybe my feelings are unique after all. Maybe I just frighten you, and am too much for lighthearted conversation. I’ll never know. Even if my theories were true, I don’t think you’d ever tell me.

September 2nd, 2010
Dear Elizabeth,
I’ve given up. You are my biggest fear, my greatest weakness, and I cannot wait any longer for it to feel right. Besides, maybe this way it will stay pure. If it ever happened, it could just be so much emotion it would burn quickly, and end. I don’t think I could bear a world where I lost you. At least this way, we can stay friends.

November 11th, 2013
Dear Elizabeth,
I have lived a life without regrets apart from one. My regret is not that I never got to be your partner in crime. However wonderful, and complicated that would have been, I
stand by my decision to be silent about my feelings. My only regret is that you will never know how you changed my life. In a truly bizarre twist you are the one who made me believe in love, even though I have not once tasted the sweetness of your lips. If it’s anything like I have dreamt, I fear I could only handle one kiss. Once our mouths separate, I always start blabbing to you about how long I have waited. You laugh with me, and that’s when I wake up. I yearned to tell you so many times so that my heart might stop aching when I look at you. But, I think that would be selfish. So, I’ll keep my secret. I love you, Elizabeth. Goodbye.


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