There was a woman I fell in love with. We met in the Portuguese Speakers Wanting To Learn English room on www.orkut.com January 2nd, 2005. We talked for the first time on Windows Messenger and it was for four or five hours but it felt like much less because we enjoyed it so much.
I didn’t see her again for a day or two as I recall, and worried she hadn’t enjoyed the conversation. I finally left her a note, no response. But then one day I ran into her again and it happened again.
At some point I called her, and that connection was also special.
I had a mission trip to Rio, Brazil in April, so arranged to stop and visit with her. From the moment she and her grandma Cleonice met me at the airport, that was it for us. Bianca was mine and I was hers for the next six years.
I visited her every two weeks, using frequent flyer miles, whenever I could pass through on a mission trip, etc. 10-14 days at a time, but they were little slices of heaven. We were so in love and so connected. And it was the greatest feeling of my life.
In 2006, I asked her to marry me. Got on my knees, gave her a ring. She said “yes.” And so in April 2007, after her college graduation, she moved to be with me. In between was all the visa paperwork and immigration documents and fees, a lot more phone calls and a lot more IMs. But I had finally found someone to spend the rest of my life with. After 36 years, I had stopped believing. Bianca made me believe again.
April 14, 2007, we married in a small ceremony in St. Louis.
The marriage was pretty good. A few issues with adjustment to culture and weather and the realities of a husband who needed to work and a lonely wife who was in a new place. The challenge of money limits, trying to find her a job, etc. And although there were moments of odd behavior I now know the explanation for, we were happy, and life was good.
That lasted two and a half years.
The nightmare began October 5th, 2009, when I came home from teaching music in Mexico to find a desperate message from Bianca begging me to pick her up. She knew I was in Mexico. She’d ridden the bus to town to do a workshop for her new job, I thought. She should have been home hours before. What had happened? My cell phone was off to avoid International roaming. The house was empty. So my friends and I searched until early morning. I didn’t know where she was until a policeman arrived at 4:30 am. She was barefoot, had walked all the way downtown, 40 miles or so, thrown away her cell, her wedding ring, all her documents. And was dodging traffic on the highway.
Two days later, I got her forcibly admitted to psychiatric care, the first of five times in the next two years. The treatment was hell because she was not herself and she blamed me. And the first time they let her out, I had to take her back kicking and screaming after only a few days.
But when she got out the second time, she forgave me, admitted I showed my love for her by getting her help and took her meds. A year later, it was hard to remember all that because life was so good again.
In January 2011, Bianca was at UTEP getting As. Her long time dream of finishing her education was a reality. She had a good job too. Everything looked really good.
Oh there were hurdles. I’d lost my job in May 2010, we believe strongly, because of health care costs from Bianca’s illness (something we could not prove sufficiently to go to court but did have strong evidence of). I lost my second job, when the employer was worried I’d leave town and needed continuity and found a replacement. Then unemployment got cancelled. Times were hard. But Bianca worked hard to support us and she encouraged me. And we made it through, got unemployment back. I even had a seasonal job at H & R Bloch. And Bianca was in school.
I was so proud of her. Just so amazed. She was so serious about it. So dedicated. And she did well. I was happy the loans had made it possible.
Then in March, I fulfilled a dream, by going on scholarship to Rainforest Writer’s Village. When I left, she was a bit mad that I was leaving her alone for so long, but things were otherwise okay. By mid-week, she sounded different on the phone. And by the weekend, she was full on manic. The Bianca I’d left behind was gone. And I haven’t seen her since.
She had three more forced hospitalizations, two in state institutions. Lost her job. Lost her school mid-semester. Everything she’d worked for, gone. And I was dealing with a person who hated me again and was mad at me because she was in the hospital. She still wanted me to visit so I could be verbally abused by her. But she denied loving me. Expressed regret of our life together.
I thought for sure the meds would resolve it again. But this time, she never came back.
On Tuesday, June 7, we signed divorce papers. We’d filed the previous Friday. Wednesday, June 8, Bianca flew home for Brasil, forever.
I lost my best friend. I lost my lover. I lost my companion. I lost my wife. And all I can do is cry and mourn the person I lost not only physically but mentally.
Things were so good, so many times. So many precious memories. So many wonderful moments.
The woman I fell in love with doesn’t deserve the life mental illness is creating for her. She deserves love and success and motherhood and so much that she may never have again because of bipolar disorder.
I may find love again. I may have my family. But I know a part of me is gone with Bianca. Because she gave me so much in our short love affair. And at the moment all I can do is wish it had been longer.
I miss you, Bianca. I really loved you. I really cherished you. I’m sorry I didn’t say that enough. I’m sorry I hurt you sometimes. I never meant to. And I’m sorry you have this horrible disorder that’s torn us apart and destroyed our love, the life we worked so hard for. I miss you so much. And our pets miss mommy too. I hope you can conquer this disorder. You’re so smart and talented, if anyone can, it will be you. A part of me just wishes, at least right now, that you could have conquered it with me beside you.
May God bless and keep you, my amor. Thanks for the wonderful time we did have. I’ll always cherish that.
For what it’s worth…
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.