A Woman Explains the Meaning of Love

Clarita said: I wanted to feel my heart. I wanted to be a wife. Not just any wife, I wanted to be a wife in love.

I was beautiful. I was young. I knew every man in town, every man knew me. Men would talk to me while I walked to church. Men would stare at me from every pew. But when do you know it’s love? I asked my heart. And how can you be sure it’s right?

My heart said to me: Clarita, these men aren’t right. Wait for someone different. Use your patience. When you are no longer waiting for him, he will knock on your door.

I said to my heart: But these men are decent. I know Manuel from school. If I say yes, he will court me. When I want to have children, he will be ready.

My heart said to me: Clarita, you will be an exceptional wife. You show every promise, every tenderness. You will have an extraordinary marriage, but not to any man you see here.

I said: But what if I get life all wrong? I cried. I was nearly 19. But Heart, you know best. You are the keeper of each secret. Without you I would not live. Without you I’d feel nothing.

And then I met Rolando. I saw him, and I knew. I thanked my patience. I thanked my heart. He was a soldier, he was 10 years older, it was love. We were married in December. He loved me for life. We celebrated one another each day.

Now I am old. We moved countries. We had four children. Here is Rolando in the photograph on my nightstand. Did you know he died?

Listen, he was old. He had pains. His blood was getting thin. The doctor said: It’s cancer and there’s nothing to be done. Did you know he was alone in the hospital his last night? I had just gone home. I was making rice.

In my apartment building the old people play bingo on Saturday nights. One man said to me: You are beautiful. I like your laugh. Come to bingo with me next week.

I said: But I have a husband. He said: He has died. I said: But even after death, how can you forget about love?