She loved him with all her heart. She gave him all that she could. She cared for him, hugged him when he needed a friend, gave him a peck on the cheek when he was depressed. She helped him with his work, gave him ideas for his new projects, cooked for him when he was hungry. She stayed awake when he could not sleep and he left her when she needed him.
He left her forever and left his ten year old daughter for her to take care of. Daughter someone else had borne. Did she deserve all this? Catherine spent hours standing in front of the mirror, asking this question to herself. Why did she let all this happen? Who was to be blamed? She did not know. All that she knew was that she loved him a lot, loved him enough to spend her life taking care of his ten year old daughter. She was ready to lead her life as his widow though she had not married him.

Roger and she were colleagues and she had been there for him whenever he had needed her. She had met Lily, Roger’s wife, during the final days of her life. She had been there for Roger when he mourned. She had taken care of Roger’s daughter when she had awakened in the middle of the night calling for her mother. That was the first time she had stayed back at Roger’s place. After that she frequently stayed back at his place to take care of his daughter. She had held Roger in her arms as he cried. She had tried her best to bring Roger’s life back to normal.
Three years. She had given three years of her life to Roger, attending to his and his daughter’s needs. Christine and she had become friends. The little girl had accepted Catherine as a part of her life and now Catherine was the only family she had.

Catherine pushed aside the covers and carefully got out of the bed. She did not want to wake up the little girl. She walked towards the desk and sat on the chair. After a moment of thinking, she took out a scribble pad from the drawer and wrote a poem for Roger:-

Standing in front of the mirror,
A lump in my throat and ache in heart
I ask myself - Why did I even give you the chance?
Why did I let all this happen?
Why did I let you hurt me and walk away?

I stand there, for hours, staring at my reflection
Staring at those lips, as if they would speak
Staring at those eyes, as if they would let me peek into the truth
The warmth of your love, slowly kisses my cheeks
As I see in the mirror, the tears that have finally left my eyes
Why did all this happen?
What am I doing here? Standing like this; in front of the mirror?
Should I be here, asking questions to myself?
Or stand in front of you and ask you why did you do this?
Why did you leave me, right when I needed you?

I don't know,
Things were not meant to happen this way
After all that we shared together.
I was not meant to be standing here, alone.
You were not meant to be there, sleeping alone, forever.
We were meant to be together.

Tears trickled down her face, onto the paper and smeared the word “together”. Perhaps, that sort of connected her with Roger because she felt something warm inside her heart. Suddenly, the breeze entering through the window touched her skin in a manner that made her shiver. Her hair that rose and fell with the breeze made her feel as if he was whispering something in her ears. She tore off the paper from the pad, neatly folded the paper and placed it in an envelope. She got up and turned around. She wanted to visit him right now but it was not possible. The time was 00:25 hrs, five minutes to half hour past midnight, the time Christine woke up because of the nightmare she started having after Roger’s death.
“God, don’t you ever do this to anyone ever!” Catherine whispered as she looked at Christine.
Catherine tiptoed out of the room; she still had five minutes to spend with Roger. She walked to his room and as she turned the knob of the door...

She remembered the day she had told him how much she loved him. That was the day he had told her that he could not love her back. He had loved only one woman all his life, Christine’s mother and his lawfully wedded wife who died of cancer.

As she entered the room, Catherine remembered the first time they made love. She remembered the day when finally Roger had accepted her. As she walked closer to the bed she felt him, felt his warm embrace around her, felt his lips on her neck and she closed her eyes. She visualized them together on the bed that was left unattended since they had slept together on it for the first and the last time. She opened her eyes and kept the envelope on the pillow. She wanted to sit there and spend some more time with him. Suddenly she heard the scream. Christine… She needed her. Catherine got up and rushed to her room. As she reached the door she saw Christine sitting upright in bed, staring towards the wall. Now was the time, Catherine had to rush and stop Christine from climbing out of the bed and flinging herself towards the wall in an attempt to run to her injured daddy. Christine pushed aside the covers and Catherine ran towards her. The strength with which Christine tried to rush towards the wall always amazed Catherine. It was too much for a ten year old. Catherine managed to hold her back and place her on the bed and tuck her in covers. “It is okay honey, it is just a dream. Try to sleep.” Catherine said as Christine struggled to get out of her grip.
“She killed daddy. Mama killed daddy” Christine screamed at the top her voice.
“Hush, just close your eyes and try to sleep, okay. I am here right besides you” saying so, Catherine tried to calm her down and slid in bed next to the little girl who was still trying to get up. It took some more efforts for Catherine to calm her down and then Christine broke into loud sobs as Catherine held her close to her chest.
“Please stop this Lord” Catherine prayed. It had been one year since that dreadful accident that had killed Roger. The accident that had taken place the very next day Roger and she had come together. One year, Catherine thought. How could He punish a little girl like that? Christine had been having these dreams for past one year now. It had started taking a toll on her health. She could neither sleep nor eat properly.
“Mama killed daddy” she kept on repeating in her sleep too.

Initially Catherine had assumed that the nightmares would take a backseat after Christine came out of the shock. She had expected this to last only for a few months but she had been worried when it continued to happen every night. Christine vaguely remembered her dream and it had started affecting her health because of lack of sleep. She could not sleep for a long time after the dream. Catherine had visited a child psychologist for Christine and now she was under his treatment. He had been working on her for a few months but without any success. Last time she had visited him, he had expressed his fears that Christine might need medication. Catherine was not ready for this. There has to be some other way, she had told the doctor.

Catherine had discussed this with the doctor and he had not denied the possibility. She felt that one of the reasons for Christine’s nightmares was that she had played an important role in bringing Roger and her together. Now, after her daddy was killed in an accident she must be feeling that her mama had punished her daddy for thinking of another woman and was now haunting her because she had brought them close. There was no other possible explanation she could come up with. However, there was one more thing that they could not find answer for. Catherine and the doctor failed to understand why Christine repeatedly said that she had seen her mother on the day of the accident. Not once but twice. Once at the accident spot and second time in the hospital where Roger was declared dead!

As Catherine held Christine close to her chest, she remembered the day of the accident. They had been out for a movie and on their way back home, Roger had crossed over to buy ice-cream for Christine as Christine and she waited on the other side of the road. When Roger was about to cross the road, a speeding car had hit him. The car had come to a screeching halt at some distance but had then sped away. Catherine had rushed towards Roger but Christine had continued staring at the car. Suddenly she started screaming that her mama was driving the car that had hit Roger.
Catherine had picked her up and pushed her in the cab in which Roger was being taken to the hospital. The doctors attended to Roger but he was declared dead on admission. Christine screamed yet again saying that she had seen her mama at the entrance of the hospital. Catherine could not believe what Christine was saying. How could she?
Catherine just wanted all this to stop and she was ready to do anything for that. But there was nothing she could do.

The doctor had even suggested that Catherine should marry someone else, it might perhaps help Christine but Catherine was not ready for that. Had she been sure that it would help Christine she could’ve considered the option but somewhere deep within her heart she knew it was not going to happen that way. There had to be some other way. There was a way, she was sure. She just needed to reach there.

Catherine looked at Christine who was now sleeping peacefully. She climbed out of bed and walked to the window. She had to visit the doctor the next day. Perhaps he was right. Christine needed medication. She was ready to take the risk if that would help Christine.
Then, why was she not ready to take the risk of marrying someone else if that could help Christine? Catherine closed her eyes and tears trickled down her cheeks. Was she being selfish?
She turned around and walked out of the room. She walked to Roger’s room and slid into the bed. She needed him to hold her, she needed him to tell her what was the right thing to do; she needed him to hug her and assure her that everything would be fine. She did not want to fail. She did not want to stand in front of his grave and tell him that she could not do anything for his daughter, their daughter.
Catherine never knew when she fell asleep.

When she woke up the next day she walked back to Christine’s room before the girl woke up. She had made up her mind. After sending Christine to school, Catherine walked to Roger’s grave and kept a rose and the envelope on the grave.
She got in her car and then drove to the psychologist’s clinic. She waited for her turn to go in but before that the psychologist walked out saying that he had to cancel all his appointments for personal reason. After being the relative of his patient for many months, Catherine was now friends with the psychologist and when she saw the look on his face, she knew it was something serious. She knew it was about his wife.
They had met on a weekend and, over a cup of coffee the psychologist had told her about his wife who had been in persistent vegetative state* for more than a year now. There were times when she became unresponsive. Doctors attending to her had said that perhaps she could be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. That was not the way his wife wanted to live, the doctor had told Catherine. At times, he wanted to take that bold step and put an end to all this and at other times he wanted to let it be. Sometimes, hoped that she would recover. Sometimes, was ready to take care of her, for the rest of her life even if she was bed-ridden. That day Catherine had seen a completely different man.

Catherine stood up as the doctor walked towards her.
She had started caring for the man and as he told her the reason for canceling the appointments she wanted to accompany him. He did not say anything, perhaps because he too wanted a company.

They drove to the hospital, the same hospital where Roger had been taken on the day of the accident. As they walked towards the I.C.U. the doctor held Catherine’s hand. She tightened her grip on his hand and assured him that everything would be fine. The staff was waiting for them. The attending doctor said that the patient had become unresponsive and there was very little hope that she would recover and the administration wanted him to take some decision. When Catherine saw the frail woman lying on the hospital bed she kept staring at her. It was not possible, just not possible! How could she be here, in the hospital when she was already dead!
Catherine could not believe the resemblance between doctor’s wife and Christine’s mother.

Suddenly Catherine remembered what the doctor had told her. She remembered the accident he had mentioned, the one that had left her in this state. Two accidents on the same day had ruined two families. His wife had hit a man while speeding at the red light trying to reach home in a hurry. She had halted for a moment but then sped away and then she had followed the family to the hospital where she had learned that the man she had hit was declared dead. She had called him up and told him about the man, his wife and his daughter. On her way home from the hospital she had met with an accident and had been punished for what she had done.

Catherine closed her eyes; she heard Christine’s screams that her mama was driving the car that had killed her daddy; she heard Christine’s screams telling her that she had seen her mama in the hospital too. Catherine’s head started spinning. She held the doctor’s arm. He turned to look at her. Catherine knew how to save the doctor’s wife; she also knew how to help Christine. She then told him about the resemblance between his wife and Lily; Christine’s mother. Finally, God had heard her prayers. Catherine felt as if Roger had finally stepped in to help her, help her to help his daughter.

After school, Christine was brought to the hospital. She was shocked when she saw the doctor’s wife. The girl stood rooted to the ground. Catherine made her walk close to the woman and hold her hand. The girl turned around and ran out of the room. Catherine had a hard time convincing the girl and explaining everything to her. At one point of time she was not sure whether Christine understood what she was saying but then as the girl walked towards the room she knew that she had succeeded in convincing the girl.
After some time, Christine whispered something in the woman’s ears and the woman responded. She turned to look at Christine and, tears gathered in her eyes. Christine turned around and walked out of the room. She did not say anything on way back home; she did not say anything on entering the house. She just locked herself in her daddy’s room. Catherine knew that everything was going to be fine. When Christine opened the door, she rushed towards Catherine and hugged her.

That night, Christine slept peacefully.