The Wishing Trees - By John Shors Page 0,1

And he’d kept his promise, despite many temptations.

Ian sat on a chair and placed the package on his lap. He smelled the wrapping paper, hoping that a trace of Kate might remain. He imagined her tying the bow and he kissed the neat little knot of fabric. A tear raced down his face, dropping next to the bow. Maybe her tears fell in the same spot, he thought, wishing that he could kiss her damp cheek once again.

The box carried no card, which he had thought about often over the past ten months. It wasn’t like Kate to forget something like that, as she had always loved letters. She’d detested e-mail and text messages, refusing to write to him in such a manner unless it was absolutely necessary. Her notes had come to him via pen and paper.

After taking a deep and measured breath, Ian moved his fingers to an edge of the wrapping paper. His heartbeat quickened. The back of his neck tingled. His right thumb edged back and forth as if it were on the dial of his BlackBerry. He was afraid that Kate’s gift, through no fault of her own, would wound him. And he didn’t have the strength to withstand being wounded again.

The wrapping paper resisted him. The paper was like a flag draped over a coffin, and he treated it with respect. Kate had been careful with it, and he needed to be as well. “What’s in here, my luv?” he asked softly, his thick Australian accent at odds with the sounds of Manhattan seeping through a nearby window.

A box was soon revealed—a red shoe box that he had seen her use on other occasions. He removed the lid, moving faster, and saw an envelope first. Below it were about a dozen black film canisters. Ian pursed his lips, opening the envelope, which contained a letter. The sight of her elegant handwriting made him cry. She had always written in cursive, and even facing death, and in substantial pain, her hand had been steady and unrushed.


Did you know that you take your love with you, when you die? I am so certain of this, because during the last few months, as I’ve lain here and deteriorated, my love for you and Mattie has been growing. Nothing, these days, grows within me except my love for you two. And that love rises like a tropical grass, overshadowing everything beneath it, reaching for light and warmth. A year ago I didn’t think that I could love either of you more. But I was wrong. I was looking at a tree in front of me, a gorgeous tree for sure, but not as lovely as the forest that surrounded it. I love you. I love you. I love you.

I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon you, though surely fate brought us together. Why else would we have both decided to teach English in Japan? Me, a girl from Manhattan. You, a boy from rural Australia. The heavens must have conspired for us to meet. That was the beginning of our story. The end will never be written. The middle saw us travel the world together, create a loving daughter together.

Do you recall when we were at the Taj Mahal and our guide told us about the emperor and his wife? He loved her so much. And as she lay dying, he wondered if she needed anything. She asked him for one wish—to build her something beautiful and to visit that place on their anniversary and light a candle. That dying woman’s wish became the Taj Mahal.

Well, I have a last request, too. It may be simpler than what she asked for, but it won’t necessarily be easier. You see, I want you and Mattie to be happy. That is my last wish. I want you both to be happy after you’ve mourned me. I can’t rest in peace if either of you is miserable, so please do this for me. Be happy. Learn to laugh again. To joke. To wrestle together like you once did. Learn to be free again.

Remember how, before I got sick, we were planning to retrace our steps around Asia? To celebrate our fifteenth anniversary? Only this time, Mattie would be by our side. We were all so excited, so full of life, of joy.

I want you, my love, to take her on that same trip. See what we were all so eager to see, feel what we wanted to feel. Will you