May, 1882

My Darling Erik -

I have no intent to record my memoirs permanently. I just need to write to you so that I can make these circumstances more real and less dream-like. After I write this, my love, I will burn this letter. Yet, I must get it down on paper to clear my dazed mind.

Our son has been born.

His name is Charles. Oh, Erik, he is so beautiful. So amazingly perfect. He and I had a difficult time after delivery but we're both doing fine now and he is right here at my side. I wish so desperately that you were as well.

I am sorry, my love. I had to stop for a few minutes to shed the endless tears that stream from my eyes recently. My doctor has assured me that this is normal and to be expected. I merely smiled weakly at his ignorance.

For no one, except you, could possibly begin to understand the whirlpool of deep emotion in which I am caught.

Oh, God. Erik, our son. I cry continuously as I write this note. For I will never say those words and proudly present him to you. I will never see you hold the miracle of our love; this precious, exquisite result of our only union.

He has your hands. I saw that right away. I do hope he has inherited even a little of your boundless talent. Charles is a very good-natured baby. He only cries when he is wet or hungry. You would be exceedingly proud of him. I stare into his eyes for hours when he is awake and I fancy that he knows. That he has the innate sense that his true papa is not here. He gazes at me with an intuitive understanding that comforts me in this bittersweet joy of motherhood. We share an undeclared bond that transcends the traditional mother/child relationship. Sometimes, I like to pretend that you are here with us.....beside me as I nurse him. I imagine that I will look up to see you watching us with wonderful astonishment at what we have created. You would simply adore him.

That is the hardest part for me, I suppose. If I could have anything in the world, besides Charles, it would be to see you hold him, even just for one moment. I would give half of my life to see the priceless expression on your face as you held our son.

Truly, it is amazing how many tears I can shed and still more fall. Dear God! Erik. It has been so hard. So exceedingly grueling without you. I sense you with me constantly and if it were not for your continuous silent fortification, I do believe I would go mad. Charles has softened the impact of your death somewhat. I thank you with all my heart for leaving me with such a treasure to remember forever that one glorious night we were allotted.

It is strange, but I think I was aware that I was with child even before I left you. I knew that what we had experienced was not the end. In truth, it was the beginning, at least for little Charles. When I returned to my flat that day, I lay abed with Ayesha for so many days that I lost count. Raoul just assumed it was from my strain and I let him think such. Honestly, Erik, I was in shock. Shock from losing you in that precious moment when I handed you over to God, but also shock at the staggering intensity of what we had shared. Neither of us had ever known physical love before, but I was quite certain even then, that what we had given each other was far from ordinary. For over a week, my maid cared for me as I lay practically catatonic. I believe that Meg and Madame Giry came to visit at that time but I cannot be sure.

Eventually, I attempted to rouse myself from my lethargy. Seriously rumpled, I bathed and could not help remembering your touch on my bare skin. I began to cry so violently that my maid had to send for the doctor who mercifully gave me tranquilizers. I do not recall anything after that until I was roused by my nervous maid who told me I had a foreign visitor.

I knew immediately who it would be and dressed hastily. Ayesha incessantly circled the apartment while endlessly wailing. I envied her the liberty to grieve so openly.

When I went into the parlor and saw Nadir, he looked upon me with such tender, knowing compassion that I went to his arms without compunction. He held me for quite a long time as I cried. Finally, I was able to release some of my secret grief with someone else who had known and cared for you. Such a solitary bereavement probably would have driven me insane and I am so grateful for his visit that day. He saw me to the divan and kept one hand in mine. I asked after your proper last rights and he assured me it had all been executed. Nadir seemed older somehow and we gazed at each other silently in shrouded alliance. Your presence was so strong that afternoon. So much so that, after a time, neither of us spoke. We just remembered. It was your memorial service and it was so acutely painful that the memory still moves me. You deserved so much more. Nadir appeared fidgety before he departed and when I inquired as to the cause, he handed me a box wrapped in twine. Then, he left with promises to keep in touch and I thanked him for his loyalty to both of us.

Following his visit, I went into my bedroom and locked the door. I stared at the box with a curious mix of apprehension and eagerness. Sitting down on my bed, I carefully opened the twine and lifted the lid. What I saw inside left me breathless.

Nadir had carefully packed away partial pieces of a composition you had written. It was incomplete, of course, but several pages were spared your crazed rage. Touching them reverently, I sobbed anew at my loss. Underneath the parchment lay several items from my room. I smiled through my tears at the familiar brush and mirror. There was a small item wrapped in tissue paper. I opened it with shaking hands and was dumbfounded. Out of all the items on my dressing table, how Nadir had known that single article meant more to me than all the others, I will never know. I like to believe that you somehow inspired him to place it inside that box. For inside lay the single, dried rose you presented to me the night of my stage debut. Smiling sadly, I brought it up to my nose.

It was after that interview that I knew I must continue. Life would not swallow me up as I desired. I began to notice several changes in my body and a hope I dared not entertain grew each day.

Raoul insisted we be wed at once, but I purposely detained him. I wanted to be certain that the child I carried was ours - yours and mine. After one month, I knew without a doubt. Offering Raoul an opportunity to break our engagement, he vehemently declined. Yet, he insisted we move to England away from all the memories. Knowing I carried part of you inside me was the only means of strength that permitted me to tiredly agree. We left France by ship and I recall standing watching the land recede into the horizon. I knew that I would never return there. But I had taken everything I needed with me.

Well, my darling, it appears that your son is stirring and he will no doubt be hungry. Somehow, I pray that you were able to read my thoughts. Thank you for helping me wade through this wonderful, horrible time.

Erik, I love you so. My soul misses you dreadfully.

Yours Eternally -

Christine