An old man is standing in front of a house. He is not moving; he's yet to make an important decision. He knows well he's wasting valuable time by just staring at the ground; not saying or making what he wants. A young person is sitting next to him, looking up with no idea and no intention to know if there's something to waste. The old man is breathing strong and fast. "Are you feeling sick?" asked the youngster - the girl named Marion. "No, just forgetting something important, I'm sure" said the senior man - her father named William.
Marion grabbed her dad by the forearm and said to him not to be worried. William smiled to her, and sat down next to the woman he always considered being younger than she was.
He read to her his final words:
My dear girl, I hope you know how sweet you are. I hope you remember who you are right now for the rest of your life. Now that mine is getting closer to the end I think quite often that I forgot whom I was. I got lonely, except of course because of you. But I did chased off lovely people and for that I'm sorry. I feel sorrow because my memory is so bad I can't even tell you stories about my youth. That makes me wonder if you will ever understand whom I am, and why. There’s no one in or out here. No one can assure you there was a mischievous young William.
That is my big regret: leaving you here without a mother, without a father, nor family and no one that can talk to you about us, long after we are gone. I fear the day you miss the two of us and you have no one. No one near you that can ease your pain by telling you a funny story about Marie and William. It alarms me that somehow life will twist your memories, as it did with me, because that is what it does to us. Even if we think we are not letting it happen, we end up being a stranger to our childhood self.
She tried to interrupt her father. William said "Sweet Marion must let the dying man finish before it's too late". He read the next paragraph:
This letter was written before I went completely blank, and if I’m not the person reading this to you, I'm sorry. Maybe I went for a walk to the lake and I drowned. And Marion you must know that the handwriting in this letter is not mine. By this moment it is almost impossible for me to remember how to do my own.
"Whose handwriting is that?" asked Marion. "A friend wrote it for me" William said - "long white hair he had and a garibaldi beard style". "Why is that description so familiar to me? " asked Marion, being tenderly sarcastic. "Well, I don't know, you've never seen the ocean. So it is impossible for you to know who this long lost person is" said the disorientated old man wearing an old jacket with a captain's insignia.
"Please darling, let me get to the end".
Before you lost your mother, the great love of us both, I didn't even know about your existence. My girl, life and wars in the past tended to pull apart the people involved in a marriage. Was it a Tuesday when I received a letter much like this one? It came to me five years before I started to prepare myself to write this...
...And yet, being prepared, now I've forgotten what I wanted you to know. I can't get through my mind. I'm trying to get a hold of my good helping friend, but he insists that I never told him what was all this about...
...Marion I came back to finish the letter, I still don't know what I wanted to tell you in the beginning. I've read it so many times I'm not counting anymore. I'm afraid I won't ever be able to recall what it was. But my helping friend asked me something I think you should answer on your own. Before finding yourself with the rest of us. I will guide you to the question. From now on, that's what this letter is all about.
I know that by now, when someone is reading this to you, I will be somewhat lost: without keeping track of things and days. Possibly not even knowing when your birthday is. Maybe by now you have your own family and I can't even recognise my grandchildren. But maybe I'm dying sooner than I thought and you are just a young woman - I hope this to be true. In any scenario you must get the question right. You have to know what it is really asking from you - not to you.
My beautiful girl, will you still visit the forest after I'm gone? Will you continue to dream during the light of the day? Can you promise me, in front of my gravestone, that you will always seek adventures? And you will never come back to visit me, but instead go on and live the only life you will ever have? If there's another one, I'll be waiting for you. Just so you won't miss me for too long and get distracted by that feeling in this life. Get in love, madly, make the rest of women and men fear you when you are protecting your beloved one(s). If you don't find motherhood in this life, would you still care for the children? Is laughter going to be the reason you cry the most? Promise me you'll always fight sadness away - the one inside you and the one that invades other's minds. Remember darling to always take a deep breath before getting out of bed. Don't be afraid of being hurt, that raging feeling means that they haven't defeated you. Will you look at the stars and remember how I used to hold you in my arms? And would you do the same with someone with a truthful beating heart? Before saying no to someone will you listen? And before saying no to something will you learn or savour it first? When you leave a beautiful place, think of it as a good-bye-for-now. What will stop you from gracefully dancing will only be death. Will your thoughts and actions be directed at truth, always?
My Marion, I'm sure you know by now what the real question is. I'm sure you'll find out the answer, unlike your old man.
After Marion visited her father’s gravestone for the last time, she wrote a little note at the end with a red marker.
Forty-two years later, Mathieu found a letter inside his wife's silver box.
The bottom part got his attention.
In a worn-out red he could read: Dad, what did you try to tell me?
In a crisp red he read: Enjoy life
That day curiosity got the best of him, after all, she was not around anymore…
…Not until nightfall.
Written by J.F.G.M.