This weekend, I was thinking of Gee and Ellie, the two women I love most…and decided to watch a movie that reminds me of them both for a lot of reasons. The movie, Message In A Bottle, is one that Gee and I saw in a movie theater when it still playing.
The second time I saw it was on cable, at the hotel, when I was out in Seattle working the 1999 WTO meetings. Gee had just dropped me off at the hotel, and I turned on the TV after checking into my room, the movie was just starting. The last time I saw this movie before today was on Gee’s birthday in 2001, with Gee.
In the movie, this was Catherine’s letter to Garrett, and Gee said much the same to me on her birthday in 2001. She had finished her final round of radiation therapy and we were celebrating. This is what she wrote in the card she gave me that day:
My dearest Danny,
This day is very special for me. Not just because it’s my birthday or Valentine’s Day. It’s my last day of radiation treatment. You’ve told me all along these five weeks that I would make it w/ flying colors. And you were right. I did it and I wouldn’t have been able to do it w/o your unconditional love & support. I thank God every day for finding you & having you in my life. You make me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I always treasure the moments we have together & I’m looking forward to spending many more to come. I love you now & forever.
In many ways, Gee and Catherine represent the past, and Ellie and Teresa represent the future, and I, like Garrett, have to figure out how to move from one to the other.
Like Garrett’s third and final letter, I too felt that my life had ended when I failed to save the woman I love, and thought that hanging onto memories of her could keep us alive. But, like Garrett, I have come to realize that in order to truly honor my love for Ellie and my last promise to Gee, I need to let go of Gee. I just hope it is not too late.
I know that Gee would bless my love for Ellie, and know that is what she asked me to do. I still hope I can spend the rest of my life with Ellie, as I asked her on June 22nd, as that is my greatest wish. If not, then at least, I hope Ellie will remember how much we loved each other some day—and know how lucky I was to have her in my life as long as I did. I hope Ellie will realize what it means when I told her I love her more than I love Gee, and how hard it was for me to say that. I pray that she will realize all that I tried to do for her was done out of my deep, unconditional love for her.
I hope my beloved Gee rests in peace, knowing that I have moved on as I promised her so many years ago. I hope that Ellie returns to being her true self soon and still wants to share her life with me as it seemed she was planning to do before her illness took hold of her. I hope that Ellie still wants to have those Asians with freckles that she so adores.
As Teresa says at the end of the movie:
If some lives form a perfect circle…others take shape in ways we cannot predict or always understand. Loss has been a part of my journey. But it has also shown me what is precious. So has a love for which I can only be grateful.
I truly believe this, because my life has taken shape in ways I did not predict and did not understand. My love for Ellie is a perfect example of that, for she is not someone I would have chosen—yet, once I realized I did love her, it made perfect sense to me.
If I were to send Ellie a message in a bottle, this is what it would say:
Know that I have loved you all of your life and always will. I have cared for you and protected you all of your life as well. I have never broken faith with you or your trust in me, even though you have broken faith with me and lied about me. I forgive you for what your illnesses have made you say and do.
I have never stopped loving you, caring for you, or being your friend—even if you chose not to recognize the truth of this.
If you should ever return to being the compassionate, beautiful, strong, smart, feisty, and ambitious woman that I love—the woman who told me “Sarangheyo”—I will honor my promises to you. I still want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you.
If we should never see each other again, I hope you know that you are very much loved and that my heart will always be with you—forever and a day. You are mo chuisle mo chroi, mi querencia and my harbor of refuge.
Always yours, with all my love. Dan.
May God watch over my beloved Ellie and protect her—even from herself. May He bless her and grant her the courage, strength and most of all, the will, to fight her addictions and heal herself. May He return Ellie to being the amazing woman I love once more. May He show Ellie her way home.