Dear Theresa, Can you forgive me? she laid the letter on the desk. Her throat ached, making it difficult to breathe. The overhead light was making a strange prism of her unbidden tears. She reached for some tissue and rubbed her eyes. Composing herself, she started again. Can you forgive me? In a world that I seldom understand, there are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them. Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane, sometimes they barely fan one’s cheek. But the winds cannot be denied, bringing as they often do a future that is impossible to ignore. You, my darling, are the wind that I did not anticipate, the wind that has gusted more strongly than I ever imagined possible. You are my destiny. I was wrong, so wrong, to ignore what was obvious, and I beg your forgiveness. Like a cautious traveler, I tried to protect myself from the wind and lost my soul instead. I was a fool to ignore my destiny, but even fools have feelings, and I’ve come to realize that you are the most important thing that I have in this world. I know I am not perfect. I’ve made more mistakes in the past few months than some make in a lifetime. I was wrong to have acted as I did when I found the letters, just as I was wrong to hide the truth about what I was going through with respect to my past. When I chased you as you drove down the street and again as I watched you leave from the airport, I knew I should have tried harder to stop you. But most of all, I was wrong to deny what was obvious in my heart: that I can’t go on without you. You were right about everything. When we sat in my kitchen, I tried to deny the things you were saying, even though I knew they were true. Like a man who gazes only backward on a trip across the country, I ignored what lay ahead. I missed the beauty of a coming sunrise, the wonder of anticipation that makes life worthwhile. It was wrong of me to do that, a product of my confusion, and I wish I had come to understand that sooner. Now, though, with my gaze fixed toward the future, I see your face and hear your voice, certain that this is the path I must follow. It is my deepest wish that you give me one more chance. As you might have guessed, I’m hoping that this bottle will work its magic, as it did once before, and somehow bring us back together. For the first few days after you left, I wanted to believe that I could go on as I always had. But I couldn’t. Every time I watched the sun go down, I thought of you. Every time I walked by the phone, I yearned to call. Even when I went sailing, I could only think of you and the wonderful times we had. I knew in my heart that my life would never be the same again. I wanted you back, more than I imagined possible, yet whenever I conjured you up, I kept hearing your words in our last conversation. No matter how much I loved you, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible unless we—both of us—were sure I would devote myself fully to the path that lay ahead. I continued to be troubled by these thoughts until late last night when the answer finally came to me. Hopefully, after I tell you about it, it will mean as much to you as it did to me: In my dream, I saw myself on the beach with Catherine, in the same spot I took you after our lunch at Hank’s. It was bright in the sun, the rays reflecting brilliantly off the sand. As we walked alongside each other, she listened intently as I told her about you, about us, about the wonderful times we shared. Finally, after some hesitation, I admitted that I loved you, but that I felt guilty about it. She said nothing right away but simply kept walking until she finally turned to me and asked, “Why?” “Because of you.” Upon hearing my answer, she smiled at me with patient amusement, the way she used to before she died. “Oh, Garrett,” she finally said as she gently touched my face, “who do you think it was that brought the bottle to her?” Theresa stopped reading. The faint hum of the refrigerator seemed to echo the letter’s words: Who do you think it was that brought the bottle to her? leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears. “Garrett,” she murmured, “Garrett . . .”Outside her window, she could hear the sounds of cars passing by. Slowly she began reading again. When I woke, I felt empty and alone. The dream did not comfort me. Rather, it made me ache inside because of what I had done to us, and I began to cry. When I finally pulled myself together, I knew what I had to do. With shaking hand, I wrote two letters: the one you’re holding in your hand right now, and one to Catherine, in which I finally said my good-bye. Today, I’m taking Happenstance out to send it to her, as I have with all the others. It will be my last letter—Catherine, in her own way, has told me to go on, and I have chosen to listen. Not only to her words, but also to the leanings of my heart that led me back to you. Oh, Theresa, I am sorry, so very sorry, that I ever hurt you. I am coming to Boston next week with the hope that you find a way to forgive me. Maybe I’m too late now. I don’t know. Theresa, I love you and always will. I am tired of being alone. I see children crying and laughing as they play in the sand, and I realize I want to have children with you. I want to watch Kevin as he grows into a man. I want to hold your hand and see you cry when he finally takes a bride, I want to kiss you when his dreams come true. I will move to Boston if you ask because I cannot go on this way. I am sick and sad without you. As I sit here in the kitchen, I am praying that you will let me come back to you, this time forever. Garrett

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