Time went by, and my mother-in-law fell ill. The doctor examined her and told us there was nothing he could do. I spared no effort in providing for her care. I did this for her sake and for the sake of the wife whom I loved. But more than that, I did it for the sake of humanity. Up to that point I had longed greatly to engage with the world. It was only lack of capacity to do so, I believe, that left me an idler. I'd become isolated, and this was the first time I found myself taking initiative, albeit in small measure, for the greater good. I can't deny that I was possessed, in some sense, by a desire for atonement.
My mother-in-law passed away. My wife and I were left alone, just the two of us. My wife turned to me and told me I was now the only person in this world on whom she could depend. I couldn't even depend on myself, and when she looked at me so, I lost my composure. My mind was overcome with pity. I told her she was a terribly unfortunate woman. She asked my why. She didn't understand me, and I couldn't explain myself. She started to weep. She reproached me, telling me it was only my distorted notions of her that led me to say such things.
After the loss of her mother, I treated my wife with utmost kindness. I did this not only out of love. There was a broader context to my kindness, transcending the individual. Just as in caring for her mother, my heart again was stirred. My wife seemed content. Cast across her contentment, though, was the faintest of shadows, testimony to the distance between us. Even had I opened my heart to her, though, I'm not sure I could have vanquished this shadow. I believe that women, more so than men, when affections come their way are wont to find pleasure in romance, in intrigue. Affections born of obligation, or service to some greater good, are less alluring.