In the afternoons, Ruthie asks if we can go home and talk to Nata now. Most days, she doesn’t literally do this. We listen to the songs and drink tea and have dreadful packaged cake and hug the blanket and I suppose for her this provides a degree of communion.

But at bedtime, she does talk to Nata. Out loud. Mostly, she says, “I miss you.” And sometimes, “My heart very, very hurty.” Last night, there was a long tirade on not wanting Nata to be dead.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about her death. It’s hard not to be grateful for it. I can’t help but know even with the trauma of her death, she saved me from years of further horror.

I didn’t want her to die though. More than anything, I wanted her to live. I wanted us both to live under whatever conditions we had to, but I wanted us to keep living until we found some way out. I wanted to be with her, but more than that, I wanted her to live.

So there is a sense of a rift between us. She made a very different choice than I would have wanted her to make. I might have risked my life for her if I’d had the courage—I didn’t, so I will never know. But I didn’t want her to risk her life for mine. Her life was priceless. I cannot say overall, in the long run, given everything that might have happened and did happen, it is better this way. Human life is not something you can do that with. You cannot say this outcome or that outcome is worth a human life. It is okay to sacrifice this one for it.

The sense of a rift is a part of what hurts. I know I have written about it before, but it’s still there as a problem.

And I think I just need her to hear me. I can’t undo the past or change the decision she made. I don’t even know if I can grasp the reasons she made it. It was not a mistake: She was 17 years old, but it wasn’t a matter of an error in judgment. We had in that regard different values. That’s all.

But I need to feel she knows I didn’t want her to make that choice, even if it was best. Even if it saved both of us a life of unbearable pain. I didn’t want her to die. Above all, I wanted her to live. Her life was worth anything. Any amount of suffering.

I’m not really sure how to do this. But I need it so badly.

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