Epilogue

My Dearest Charley,

Our Skype video date just ended. I hate looking at you on that tiny, banded screen. It's a woefully inadequate substitution for being with you. I'm grateful for those calls and revel in the glimpses of your sly smile, the depth of your eyes, the sound of your voice but they're not enough, though after being apart for so long I'll take what I can get. When I write to you, I don't know, I feel closer to you. That's probably weird but I don't care.

I appreciate the updates on HCI, though they're unnecessary. I trust you, baby. I wouldn't have given you those shares if I didn't. You, Mickey, Andy, and I hate to say, my dad make a great team. Andy has only good things to say about you, though some of them are inappropriate. Guy totally has the hots for you. If I didn't trust you as much or didn't know the guys vehement aversion to cheaters I'd have been home a long time ago.

I've been doing calculations at night when I can't sleep (which is a lot more often than I'd like, considering all of the work we're doing here.) This relationship we've spent more time apart than together. In fact of the roughly 61,000 hours in the last 7 years, we've spent 58,000 of those hours apart. That's 95% of our relationship apart. God, glad no one was betting on us. Those aren't great odds. Though, the three days that we spent in bed before I left improve the ratio significantly. (May I just say that the memory of those three days has gotten me through 9 months of nights without you.)

I listened to that song that you wanted me to, the one you said reminded you of me. I don't know who the singer is, but he's right: "I'm in the mood to lose my way with words," therefore there will be no pictures in this letter." Tomorrow will be a bittersweet parting from Africa, which I guess has been the theme of my time here. The dichotomous nature of this place is what I will miss the most. Somalia is equal parts beauty and brutality: children wielding machine guns march toward the pinkest, most vibrant sunset you've ever seen, a herd of Zebra crossing the hard packed, red dirt road, people starving in the place they've run to seek refuge. My job here is equal parts heartbreaking and intensely gratifying and typically at odds. Like today, I helped deliver a baby to his poor, malnourished, 15- year old mother in the refugee camp. Africa represents two sides of a blade and I've been straddling, the sharpness of it jabbing me in the heart the entire time I've been here. It's hard not to feel like a God when I administer life-saving medicine to people who bow, literally bow, to thank us, then I get hit with a massive bout of diarrhea and I'm reminded that I'm just a mere mortal. I'll be just as conflicted leaving because of all Africa has meant to me while I've been here: a place where I've found myself, and what it will mean when I leave: a place that took me away from you.

Before you, I never did the love thing. I don't even think I believed in it. As a rule I still don't, but you're the incredible exception. Collette would call me co-dependent, Markus would call it "cute", Mickey would call me pathetic but, God Charley, I love you so much it's getting to be physically unbearable to be away from you. I love you more than I could ever say on a long distance video call or in a letter, but it's only a matter of hours until you'll be in my arms again and this time I'm not letting you go. You'd better prepare for a repeat of the three days before I left. Times a million. Then, when I'm done getting reacquainted with your body, I'm going to take you to the beach. Maybe we'll find the place we first met or maybe we'll find a new spot. I'm going to celebrate being with you by getting you drunk on champagne and feeding you those truffles you like so much. I'll watch you eat in that sybaritically sexy way you do, and instead of take you right there on the beach, I'll lay your head in my lap and tangle my fingers in your hair. I'll trace the line of your cheek, the perfect curve of your raspberry pink lips and kiss you slowly. I'll tell you I've never seen anyone more beautiful, I've never felt the way you make me feel, and never ever want to be apart from you again. I'll tell you how thankful I am for all the wrongs that ever happened to either of us or between us because it's what brought us to this moment; to a love so strong and powerful it survived 2 painful marriages, 2 tragic deaths and nearly 7 years of separation. All the heartache is what brought me to you. Then, I'll slip the ring that onto your finger, and beg you to be my wife. I'll tell you that I still don't feel worthy of you but I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be. For the rest of my life I will let you take care of me, and I will take care of you in return.

I'm leaving Africa tomorrow. Only 48 (albeit excruciating) hours separate us from each other and the rest of our lives. Please, just hang on a little longer. I love you, Charley.

Your Teddy

The End