Farida’s Story

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles – Psalm 34:6, NKJV

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I was 13 when my parents married me off to a 36 year old rich Arab man.  He was the second man who wanted me to be his wife.  The other man was a neighbor and he knew me since I was a baby.  He was in his 60s.  He offered 40 cows but the Arab offered money.  My parents accepted the money.

I had no choice.  I left my village and went with him.  Before we got married, I had to spend 15 days with his family.  I hated it there.  They didn’t like me because I was African and dark-skinned.  It didn’t matter that I was a Muslim like them and that I spoke Arabic.  They would have preferred if he had married an Arab woman.  I think they had a problem with my age.  I overheard his mother ask him why did he agreed to marry someone so young?  His response was that I was very pretty and he wanted me.  I think it was because he was controlling and believed that a younger wife would be more obedient.

My life before marriage was a nightmare.  At night he would ravage me and the following morning at 7am, his mother woke me up to pray and do housework.  I felt like a slave.  I felt so alone and helpless.  Things continued and got progressively worse after we got married.  We moved into his home.  I continued to do the housework, cook and pamper him.  I was forced to have sex every night even when he knew that I was very upset or tired, he didn’t care.  He went ahead and had his pleasure and fell asleep afterwards while I lay there beside him in the bed, in the dark, crying.

My marriage wasn’t anything like my parents’.  I never saw my father mistreat my mother and she seemed to enjoy taking care of him.  It wasn’t like that for me.  I didn’t want to be married.  I wanted to be in school, getting an education.  I was hoping to be a doctor but that dream was squashed by a marriage forced on me by my parents.  My mother even said to me, “This marriage proposal is a gift from Allah, his way of keeping you out of trouble. If you say no, you will be showing your lack of faith in him, and you will be punished.  This man’s rich and he will provide well for you.  All you have to do is be a good wife to him.”

How could she expect a teenage girl to be a wife?  She didn’t even get married until she had finished school.  And she married for love.  Why couldn’t I marry for love too and when I was ready?  It seemed so unfair.  I came to the conclusion that my parents didn’t love me.  If they did, they wouldn’t have married me off to a man almost three times my age.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I imagined that my husband being so much older than me would take care of me.  He would be like a father to me.

arab-arab-culture-arab-man-arabart-757307I soon learned that a husband is never a father.  He expected me to be a wife, despite my age.  I was more like a slave.  He took great pleasure in telling me that he used to have hired help but dismissed them after he married me.  He expected me to keep a house which was very big with a lot of rooms.  I was exhausted by the time I finished cleaning it.  Then, I had to do the cooking, laundry and ironing.  I was exhausted by the end of the day but I still had to satisfy him in the bedroom.

I hated my marriage, I hated him and I hated my life.  I wished that I could run away but I knew that it would be pointless.  He told me once that if I did, he would find me because he had people watching the house when he wasn’t there.  And that life would be a thousand times worse for me.  I believed him.

Night after night, I prayed to God to help me.   I knew that what my husband was doing to me was against our religion. Islam prohibits all forms of oppression and injustice yet he felt that it was his right to beat me if I were disobedient to him such as refusing to have sex with him when he wanted it.  The Qur’an clearly teaches the sexual relationship between a husband and wife should be mutually satisfying but it was never like that for us.  As his wife, he demanded sex from me and whenever I refused him I was beaten and then raped.  He told me that God got angry with disobedient wives but I remember a friend once told me that when obeying a husband involves behavior that is hurtful or destructive to oneself or others, a Muslim wife must remember that her primary obedience is to God.

I wanted God to help me.  I wanted out of this nightmare.  I couldn’t continue living like this.  I felt like I was caught in a trap and nothing or no one could get me out of it except God.  For 25 years I was trapped in an abusive marriage and then my husband died.  He left nothing in my name and his family denied me everything, including the dowry I was entitled to.  He and I didn’t have any children together and that was why they were able to rob me of my inheritance.  I had wasted 25 years of my life.

I’m 38 now and a part of the ActionAid supported women’s group working to advocate against FGM and child marriage.  I don’t want anyone to go through what I did.  A girl should have the right to decide when and whom she wants to marry.  Education should come first.  Marriage should be a healthy, happy and safe choice for us.  Islam teaches that each person has been given freedom of choice and is accountable for his/her own life.  Today, I am pushing for girls to be independent and to choose their own future.

I don’t know if I would ever get married again.  I had such a horrible experience.  I’m just thankful to God that I’m no longer living in an abusive marriage and that I can focus on empowering girls to understand and live out their rights, including saying no to child marriage.

This story is fiction but child marriage is a disturbing reality.  I was inspired to write this story after reading Aleyna’s* story in an email sent to me by Equality Now.  She was 13 year old Lebanese girl and forced to marry a 36 year old man who abused her for 40 years before he died, leaving her nothing.  Equality Now’s partner in Lebanon, LECORVAW (The Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women) is working with women like Aleyna who need legal support to access the justice they deserve.  Aleya says that, “I have a lawyer who works for LECORVAW, she is defending me in court and that is very important. LECORVAW is giving me psychological and legal support. I feel so much better thanks to them as before I was struggling to cope.”

Child marriage is an evil practice which has to be eradicated from society.  Girls should be allowed to finish their education and to decide when they want to get married.  Marriage is for adult men and women NOT adult men and children/girls.  We need laws to protect girls from child marriage.  Let’s raise awareness and support the organizations which are working to end child marriage.

 

Sources:  Religion Unplugged; Faith Trust Institution; ActionAid

 

What I See

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Everyone has a complex

Mine is self image.

I look at myself in the mirror

And I cringe at what I see.

I’m not beautiful and skinny

Like so many of the girls

At school.  I want to be

Like them.

 

41 Words

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This was written for the Weekend Writing Prompt by Sammi Cox. For instructions, click Here.

The Proposition

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She really had to go but she was on the the fourth floor.  There was no way she could make it down  to the first floor where the staff toilet was.  Either she wet herself on the way down in the elevator or she used his toilet.  If she got caught she could lose her job but she was desperate.   

She was lucky that she had access to toilets here  at the hotel.  If she were at home or on the road, she would be forced to use a free public toilet but there was always the fear of catching a disease or getting raped. 

I’ll be quick about it.   She dashed into the washroom and closed the door.  She sat on the toilet seat and relieved herself, promising herself that this would never happen again.  Suddenly, the door opened and the Japanese man stood there.  She couldn’t tell which one of them was more shocked and embarrassed.  He muttered something under his breath and quickly closed the door.  She was mortified.  What was she going to do now?  He had caught her red-handed.  If he reported her, she would be fired on the spot.  She needed this job to take care of her daughter.

She got up, pulled her underwear up and the skirt of her uniform down, flushed the toilet and washed her hands.  Slowly, she opened the door and walked into the living-room where he was.  He turned when he heard her.  For several minutes, there was a tense silence.  She went over to him.  Her heart was racing and her hands were trembling.  Fear gripped her. Yusuke Ogasawara

Taking a deep breath, she said, “Sir, please don’t report me.  This is the first time I have used the toilet in any of the suites or rooms.  I couldn’t hold it.  I promise it wouldn’t happen again.  Just please don’t report me.  They will fire me and I need this job.”

He didn’t answer right away but he seemed to be considering what she said.  This close he was extremely handsome.

“Is that the new uniform?” he asked.

“Yes.” Today was the first time she was wearing it.  She liked it much better than the old one.

“What’s your name?”

“Ife Basemera.”

“Are you married, Ife?”

She shook her head.  “I’m divorced.”  She didn’t mention that she had a daughter.

“All right, Ife.  I wouldn’t report you.”

She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  “Oh, thank you, Mr–?”

“Kobayashi but you may call me Toshiro.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kobayashi for not reporting me.”

“I’m not sure if you will be so grateful once you have heard my proposition.”

Ife frowned.  “Your proposition?”

“Yes.  You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman, Ife.  My proposition is that in exchange for you keeping your job, you and I should get to know each other better.”

Ife swallowed.  “What do you mean?”

He smiled.  “I think you know what I mean.”  And as if to leave no room for any misunderstanding, he reached out and caressed her arm with his knuckles.  Her skin felt soft and smooth.  His eyes darkened on her upturned face.  He removed his jacket and his tie.  “Let’s go in there where it’s more comfortable.” he said, inclining his head backwards, indicating the bedroom which was behind him.

Ife’s heart sank.  She had wanted him to be interested in her but not like this–not just for sex.  Yet, she had no choice.  Either she agreed to his proposition or she was out of a job.  Wordlessly, she nodded and followed him into the bedroom.

An hour later, she got dressed.  He pulled on an expensive silk robe and followed her into the living-room.  “I would like to see you again tomorrow, Ife,” he said, “but at five o’ clock in the afternoon.”

She opened her mouth to tell him that she couldn’t because of her daughter, Miremba but she held her tongue.  Instead, she nodded before quickly slipping out of the suite before anyone could see her.  She finished her rounds until her 8 hour shift was over.  When she got home, she fixed dinner and straightened the place, although she was tired.

This story is fiction but there is a severe toilet shortage in Kampala, one of Africa’s bustling cities.  It is home to 1.5 million people but it has only 14 free public toilets.  Many of these public toilets are dilapidated with walls often smeared with feces.  And on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, there are no public toilets for around 1,200 people.   Outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases are common and yet authorities in Kampala have not constructed a single public toilet for years, There is an existing plan, however, to set up 200 toilets by 2025 with the support of donors such as the German development agency GIZ.   Until then, this continues to be a sanitation crisis.

There are many people who don’t have toilet facilities in their homes.  And women can’t use the public toilets without the fear of disease or rape.

Tuesday, November 19 is World Toilet Day.  To find out more information and how you can help, visit this link.  This year’s theme is leaving no one behind.

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right. And yet, today, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation. How can anyone lift themselves out of poverty without sanitation? We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind – United Nations

Sources: Vice;  Cleantec Innovation; Woman’s DayIndependent; New Vision

From Self-harm to Self-love

39a1ef3b-4d0c-44bb-ad22-cd952e418c41Neeha always wore long sleeves even when it was hot and humid outside because she didn’t want anyone, especially her friends to see the ugly cuts on her arms.  She wanted to stop cutting herself but she couldn’t seem to.  It started when she became pregnant and told her mother who said, “Unless you get married or give up your baby for adoption, I won’t have anything more to do with you.  What you have done is a disgrace to the family–getting pregnant before you’re even married.”

Neeha was devastated.  She needed her mother but was rejected–shunned.  Marriage was out of the question.  Her baby’s father was already married and he didn’t even want to acknowledge the child.  He had even suggested that Neeha have an abortion which he was willing to pay for but she refused.  The thought of killing an unborn child horrified her.  So, she decided to go through with pregnancy.  When she started to show she would wear loose clothing.

When things got really bad and she felt there was nowhere or no one to turn to, she began to harm herself.  She used a pair of scissors to do it.  Soon, the beautiful, clear skin on her arms was covered in red, ugly welts.  What she was doing to herself horrified and repulsed her but she couldn’t seem to help it.  It was better than turning to drugs or alcohol or even committing suicide.

At the office, she would go into the bathroom and cut herself and when she came out no one suspected anything.  She kept to herself because she feared the backlash from her mother and the rest of the family.  This kind of behavior wasn’t something one would imagine would happen in an Asian family.  It wasn’t something that they would want to acknowledge or talk about or want their white friends and neighbors to know about.

One afternoon, she was flipping through the channels when she came across a program.  It was a sermon.  She decided to watch it.  It was about a demon possessed man who was living among the tombs.  He was naked and in chains which he broke.  What got her interest is that the man cut himself with stones.  When she heard how Jesus freed the man from the demons and clothed the man, she began to cry.  The man was in his right mind and no longer hurting himself.  She heard the preacher say, “Jesus can help you just like He helped this man.  Whatever you’re going through, come to Jesus, fall at His feet and He will free you.  He will heal you.  You don’t have to go through what you’re going through alone anymore.  Jesus can help you.  All you have to do is to cry out to Him and He will hear you.”

At the end of the service, there was a free offer of a book, entitled, Hurts So Good: Exposing the Lies of Self-Injury.  She quickly scribbled down the information and sent for a copy.  Afterwards, she cried out to Jesus whom she had heard so much about.  Now, she needed Him.  She wanted to believe that He could help her.  Tears poured down her face as she asked Him to free her from this cycle of intentional self-injury like He freed the demoniac.

When she was finished, the tears subsided and she felt a peace she had never experienced in her life before settle over her.  She knew then that Jesus had answered her prayer.   With the nine action steps outlined in the book, she was on the path to hope and healing in Christ.  She replaced the knife or scissor blade with the Bible and its promises.  She gave birth to a healthy baby girl and called her, Prutha which means “daughter of love”.

Neeha found a church nearby and began to attend their worship services every week while her best friend, Farha took care of Prutha.  There at the church, Neeha met Safal, a widower with a five year old son.  They struck a friendship which soon blossomed into a romance.  Two years later, they got married.  Neeha’s mother attended the wedding.  She apologized to her daughter for the way she treated her.  Neeha readily accepted her apology.  She was just happy to be back on speaking terms with her mother.  Prutha never knew about her biological father.  As far as Neeha was concerned, Safal was her father.  He was happy to adopt her as his own.  He doted on her and she adored him.

Neeha is currently expecting another child and she is ecstatic.  Prutha is now six and is excited about having a baby brother or sister and Taj, Safal, son, whom she adopted, was looking forward to the new addition to the family as well.  Neeha is thankful that she watched that Christian program.  It changed her life in so many ways.  She is a volunteer for an organization called, Samaritans, a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide.   Some of the people she has helped were victims of self-harm and a few of them have requested prayers.

Self-harm is a very serious issue.  If you find it difficult to speak to a family member or a friend or even a co-worker, here are organizations you can reach out to for help:

  • Samaritans – The Samaritans provide a free anonymous helpline. Someone will listen and help you, 24 hours of the day on 116 123. (UK)
  • Harmless – A user-led organisation for people who self-harm, and their friends and families.

You can also ask your GP to give you advice and direct you to the best place to get help, whether it is counselling or some form of treatment.

Self-harm is something that can happen among Christians as well.  Read this story of a Christian student who struggled with self-injury.  Please reach out for help.  Don’t let fear or shame prevent you.  Take the first step toward healing.  Take the path from self-harm to self-love.

Source:  Desiblitz; Samaritans; Blue Letter Bible

Severe Morning Sickness

Asian woman have a morning sickness

When I was pregnant, I didn’t experience any morning sickness.  I have heard of some women who experience it with the one pregnancy but not the other.  Some, like Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, however, suffer from severe morning sickness known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?  It literally means “excessive vomiting in pregnancy”. Hyperemesis starts early, usually before week five of pregnancy.  

Signs and symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversions
  • Weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Secondary anxiety/depression

In some cases it is so severe that the woman has to be hospitalized.  Hospital treatment may include:

  • Intravenous fluids (IV) – to restore hydration, electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients
  • Tube feeding:
    • Nasogastric – restores nutrients through a tube passing through the nose and into the stomach
    • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy – restores nutrients through a tube passing through the abdomen and into the stomach; requires a surgical procedure
  • Medications – metoclopramide, antihistamines, and antireflux medications*

Some women might require bed rest but not too much.  My cousin’s wife needed bed rest for both of her pregnancies.  Other treatments include herbs such as ginger and peppermint; homeopathic remedies prescribed by your doctor;  hypnosis and Acupressure.  The pressure point where you can reduce nausea is located at the middle of the inner wrist.  It’s three finger lengths from the crease of the wrist between the two tendons.  When you locate it, you press one wrist firmly at a time for three minutes.  Sea bands can also be used and are available at the drugstore.

Before trying anything, always consult your doctor. For more information on hyperemesis gravidarum you check out HER (Hyperemesis Education & Research) Foundation.

Two things you ought to know:  your baby isn’t at risk.  William and Kate are parents of three beautiful, robust children.  In a post, a woman suffering from HG, gained only 12 pounds by 41 weeks pregnant gave birth to a 7.5 boy which is average.   She cautions mothers not to assume that because the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from HG during all three of her pregnancies, it means that you will every time you’re pregnant.

Studies vary, but most find that women have a good chance of experiencing HG in future pregnancies. Statistics suggest over 50% will have it with each pregnancy and those with more than one experience of HG have a greater risk of experiencing HG in future pregnancies. It also seems to occur in similar patterns and severity, though it is not always consistent. Those who have mothers, grandmothers, or sisters who have had HG will often have at least some nausea and vomiting during pregnancy – HER Foundation

Don’t let these studies discourage you, Moms.  Hang in there.

Sources:  American Pregnancy; Baby Center

The Worst News

The worst news for a woman to hear is that she will never be able to have children.

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Before I watched the episode of Greenleaf where Sophia had a medical emergency which turned out to be Ovarian Torsion, I had no idea that condition even existed.  What is it?  It is a condition which occurs when an ovary twists around the ligaments that hold it in place. This twisting can cut off blood flow to the ovary and Fallopian tube. Ovarian Torsion can cause severe pain and other symptoms because the ovary is not receiving enough blood.

The symptoms are:

  • an adnexal or pelvic mass
  • nausea
  • severe pelvic pain
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abnormal bleeding

For Sophia, it was a sharp pain in her side.  She first experienced it when she was out jogging then twice on another occasion.  The third time was very severe and she was rushed to the hospital where she was prepped with surgery because she was diagnosed with Ovarian torsion.  While on an anesthetic drug, she was talked about how her boyfriend, Roberto wanted to marry because at lunch he told her that he respected her boundaries and could see a future with her. Before going under, Sophia was dreaming about weddings, houses with mailboxes, puppies, and babies.

In Sophia’s case, the cause of the torsion were two large ovarian cysts interfering with Sophia’s organs. The doctors fixed the problem but couldn’t preserve the ovaries. Sophia will never be able to have kids of her own.  Her mother, Grace had to give her the terrible news which she did.  The scene was heart-wrenching when Sophia broke down and cried.  Grace tried to comfort her telling her that she could have children another way-meaning adoption and said something to the effect that God’s got her back.  Sophia’s response was to wonder why God would let that happen to her.

As with any unexpected and painful life changes, a person’s faith will be tested and Sophia is no different.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Will she turn away from God or will she cling to Him?  And how would her condition affect her relationship with Roberto?  Hopefully, he will stand by her.

My heart ached for Sophia, a young, lovely girl whose dreams of becoming a wife and mother one day were crushed.  How many Sophias are out there living with the painful reality that they will never be able to have kids of their own?  What do you say to someone who found out that she can never have children?  You don’t tell that this was God’s will.  Let God tell her that Himself.  Just tell her that you’re sorry and be there for her.  If she gets angry with God, let her.  He can handle it.  Don’t quote scriptures to her, don’t try to explain why this has happened to her.  Don’t be like Job’s friends.  They were more comforting to him when they were silent.  Just be there for her.

Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them – Veronica Roth, Divergent

Sources:  Medical News Today; We are the 94 Percent

Mark’s Letter

“You need to sign for this, Seth,” Lucy said as she handed the registered letter to her boss.

He took it and swallowed hard when he saw who the sender was.  It was sent a week after Mark’s death.  His funeral was two days ago.  He still couldn’t believe it.  Mark was only twenty-five.  He had finally lost his battle with Muscular Dystrophy which he had since he was born.  It was when he was six that he began to slow down.  It was hard watching his younger brother confined to a wheelchair in his latter years, unable to shoot hoops like he used to.

He picked up the pen and signed for the letter.  After she left, he opened it. He leaned back in this chair and slowly read the words on the single sheet.

Dear Seth, I had my nurse write this letter as it would take too long for me to do it myself.  Besides, her writing is far better than mine.  I know that I don’t have much time so I wanted to tell you what has been on my mind for a very long time.  It has to do with Gabrielle.  You know that I am in love with her and wanted to marry her but she turned me down.  She cares for me but she isn’t in love with me and she didn’t think it would be right for her to accept my proposal.  And she was aware that our parents didn’t approve of her for obvious reasons and she believed that you had your own objections but for different reasons.  I know what those reasons are, Brother.  You are in love with her.  I may be slow now but, I’m not blind.  I saw the way you tried not to look at her every time the three of us were together. 

“I still remember the first time I brought her to meet you.  You had just returned from a spin on your new boat.  In your get up you looked like a sea captain minus the cap.  I could tell that Gabrielle was impressed though she tried not to show it, for my sake, I guess.  We were on our way to the hospital and I suggested that we stop by the marina and see you.  I wanted her to meet my incredible brother whom I have looked up to my entire life.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the two of you were attracted to each other.  At first I was miffed but then when I thought about it, I figured that if she were to have feelings for someone else, I would rather it be you.   When I’m gone, I want you to go to her and tell her how you feel.  Don’t pass up a chance for happiness out of a sense of loyalty to me.  Nothing would please me more than to knowing that the two people I love most in the world have found happiness with each other.  What I’m saying, Seth, is that you have my blessing. 

Please take care of yourself.  And tell Gabrielle, that best thing that ever happened to me was knowing her.

Your loving brother and best friend,

Mark

Seth carefully folded the letter and slipped it back into the envelope before breaking down.

Gabrielle looked at the beautiful pendant Mark had given her as a birthday present a couple of years ago.  Tears ran down her cheeks.  She couldn’t believe that he was gone.

She missed him so much.  He was such a beautiful person, so full of love and goodness.  She felt blessed for knowing him and knew she would always cherish their friendship.  There were times when she wished that she loved him the way he loved her but she couldn’t force something that wasn’t there.  And when he proposed she had to turn him down.  She couldn’t marry a man she didn’t love.  It wouldn’t have been fair to him at all.  His family was probably relieved when he told them that she had rejected his offer of marriage.  Even Seth was probably relieved too.  Seth…Not a day went by when she didn’t think about him.  She hadn’t expected to fall in love with him but when they met she knew she was in trouble.

At the funeral, she had sneaked glances at him as he stood there, tall, well-built in his expensive black suit with his head bowed and his hands clasped tightly in front of him.  His parents stood beside him.  His father had his arm around his weeping mother’s shoulders.  She wanted to go over and offer her condolences but wasn’t sure of the reception she would receive.  After they laid Mark to rest, she was about to leave when Seth approached her.

“Thanks for coming,” he said quietly, his expression drawn.

“I had to come,” she replied.  “He was my friend.”

“He cared very deeply for you.”

“And I cared deeply for him too.  I will miss him.”

“Yes, we will all miss him.”

A pause and then, “Please offer my condolences to your parents.”

“I will.”

Their eyes lingered on each other’s face before she said, “Goodbye, Seth.”

“Goodbye.”

She turned and walked slowly away, tears welling up in her eyes.  She was crying not only because of losing Mark but at the prospect of never seeing Seth again.

The ringing of the doorbell jolted her from her reverie and she put the pendant back in its box and in the top drawer of the bureau before leaving her bedroom.  On her way to answer the door, she glanced at the clock on the wall.  It was eight-fifteen.  It was dark outside. The sun had set over an hour ago.

She peered through the keyhole, her heart lurching when she saw who it was.  Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.  Seth towered over her, looking extremely handsome in a black silk shirt and black pants.  His hair was slicked back.  “I hope I’m not calling you at a bad time,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.

She shook her head.  “No, you’re not,” she assured him as she stepped aside so that he could step into the foyer.  “I didn’t think I would see you again.”

After he removed his shoes, he followed her into the living-room.  Instead of sitting down on the sofa, he went over to the window where he could see the CN Tower. She joined him and stood watching him, thrilled to see him but couldn’t help wondering why he was there. After a few minutes of silence, he turned to face her.  “I received a letter from Mark this morning,” he told her.  “It was mailed a week after he died.”

Her eyes widened.  “A letter?” she repeated.  “He didn’t write it himself, did he?”

“No, he had his nurse write it. Would you like to read it?” he asked.

“If you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind.”  He reached into his shirt pocket and took out the envelope.  He pulled the letter out and handed it to her.

She took it, unfolded it and began to read.  Seth watched her, his expression tense.   When she was finished, she looked up at him, her eyes wet.   “He knew,” she said.

“Yes, he knew how we felt about each other even if we didn’t.”

“And he wants us to be together.  That’s why he wrote this letter.”

“He has given us his blessing.”

“Yes.” She folded the letter, slipped it back in the envelope and held it out to him.

He took it, his eyes never leaving her face and put it inside his shirt pocket.  “What about you, Gabrielle?” he asked tightly.  “Do you want us to be together?”

“Yes.  Is it what you want?”

“Yes!” he muttered thickly and reached for her.  “It’s what I’ve wanted ever since we met.”

“Me too,” she managed to say before they kissed.

Mark got his wish.  Two years later, they got married and named their first child, Mark.

Source:  ABC News