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story.lead_photo.caption Photo Submitted The Sympathy Card.

I was bored to death. It was the third day of March but it sure seemed like the dead of winter. The temperature was not expected to exceed the freezing mark of 32 degrees and the cloud cover contributed to the depressed feeling I had. What to do on a day like this; what to do?

I decided to remove myself from the couch cushion and clean the house, but where to start? Well, I surmised that the logical starting point would be the room most in need of a good cleaning, the laundry room.

With a can of cleaner and cloth in hand, I entered the room and, as the light switch was moved and the overhead light spread its bright light into the room, I knew that I had selected the right place to start. However, before the spray can was pointed in the direction of the countertop, I had to remove or, at the very least, slide over the items resting atop that slab of granite.

It was then that I noticed Robin's brown leather purse. That bag had been there for almost six years and, following Robin's death, had not been opened. I suppose that, following her death, I purposely didn't examine the contents. And, I'll admit that for some time I hadn't given the purse much thought. But that was about to change.

I slid the purse across the countertop and, upon moving the latch and opening the purse, the presence of a large envelope came into view. Wondering what the correspondence might be, I took the pastel-stained envelope from the purse and began to read.

The outside of the envelope had my name written on it. I immediately recognized the script writing. It was written by Robin's hand and had two words, "For Stan." I wanted to see what the envelope might contain but I was afraid.

As my desire to learn more about the contents which were hidden inside the envelope became greater than that fear, I carefully pulled apart the unsealed top edge and removed what I found to be a sympathy card. How particularly odd, I thought, that Robin would have placed a sympathy card in her purse; and, even more curious, that it would have my name on it. I began to read.

"Stan, I know that I have no more than a week or two left and wanted to tell you something. I've had a great life and want you to know that I don't regret one day of our time together. I am sorry that I have to leave you, but don't worry about me. I'm not afraid, I'm just sorry I have to leave you all alone.

"I know you've always been a little shy and I'm worried that you'll be alone and sad. Please don't be sad, and find someone who will make you happy. Remember, you still have a lot of life yet to live and I want you to be happy.

"I always liked a poem, so I copied it onto the enclosed slip of paper. I think it says how I feel much better than I could. Please don't be sad.

"I Love you, Robin."

Opening the folded piece of paper, I began to read the poem Robin had copied, "How Do I Love Thee."

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death." -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I read that poem over and over as time seemed to pass quite unnoticed. Little thought was given as to my next action as I returned the piece of paper to the card, the card to the envelope and the envelope to the purse. The purse was then carefully returned to its exact place prior to its disturbance and the latch was closed. I thought better of my efforts to pass the dreary day cleaning, deciding that the dust would still be there on yet another gloomy day.

I choose not to discuss this personal correspondence any longer; hence, this story must come to an end.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: The Sympathy Card

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