Precious

No matter how hard she tries, she cannot hate him.

He thinks that he deserves hatred, that he is a monster, but whenever she looks into his eyes, she can see the pained love of a man who knows he will have to watch his wife and children die before him. She feels the warmth in his heart, even if he tries to hide it.

He's afraid to grow too close to his own children. He never embraces them, nor does he ever pat them on the head in an affectionate gesture. He does not want them to love him as much as he loves them. It will be less painful for them when he leaves if they despise him and remember him as a good-for-nothing father.

She knows his fears, understands his tormented thoughts.

She also knows of the longing in her children's hearts; the longing for a father who will reach down and ruffle their hair lovingly, for a father who will tell them, "I love you." They do not understand the coldness of their father. They do not understand that their father distances himself from them because they are so precious to him.

She wishes that he could smile in their family portraits. She despairs at seeing the tears stream down his cheeks as he holds his own son for the first time. She prays that her boys will find that old photograph and understand their father's love when she is no longer of this world.

She tries to be furious with him as his lips brush softly against hers in a kiss filled with yearning. She tries to frown when his face disappears from view and she can only see his back. She tries to close her eyes to his gesture.

His hand raises into a small wave as his footsteps grow fainter and fainter. She tries to hold back her tears as he leaves her alone to raise two children, but no matter how hard she tries, she cannot, because she knows that there is sorrow within his golden eyes. She knows that within himself he too is weeping in despair. His shoulders are trembling as he distances himself from the house, knowing that if he turns back he will never be able to leave them.

She gazes at his retreating back longingly as tears trickle down her cheeks.

He is gone. She can no longer see his departing silhouette.

She kneels down and pulls both of her sons into a warm embrace, burying her tear-stained face in her elder son's shoulder as her whole body shakes with silent sobs.

But she is smiling through her salty tears. She knows that he cannot bear to see her gentle smile leave her delicate features. She smiles for her beloved.

No matter how many times he breaks her tender heart, she never regrets her decision to forever remain by his side.

She knows that he denies himself the love of his family so that when he does not return home they will not grieve. He accepts his sons' hatred as punishment for his sins.

She knows that he believes himself a monster, but when she looks at him, she sees him differently. She sees a man with transgressions. She sees a human being. She sees a loving father.

Never a monster.