I've picked Love in the time of Cholera back up this weekend. Cholera seems so much more like Solitude than the Whore book of a few weeks ago...
It starts off with the story of an old man and his wife. The man is a respected doctor in the town. Marquez describes in aching detail their life together, a bitter argument that lasted months, and how she cared for him, even dressed him in their old age.
I don't feel like I'm ruining anything to relate the next part, since it's so early in the book. The man has this parrot - that he adores. He's taught it languages and how to mimic music. The parrot is so proficient, that people come from all over to see the amazing performances that it's able to mimic. To me, the parrot seems not unlike a mistress of some sort - feisty, consuming, and problematic.
One day, after it has escaped to the upper branches of a tree, not only does the fire department get involved, but the old man climbs after it - ultimately falling off the ladder.
Clinging to life by mere moments, he waits for his wife to arrive, and in his final breath, he says "Only God knows how much I loved you."
The power and sweetness of this final declaration has me so shaken I don't really want to read anymore. I'm done. It's a brilliant phrase.
And the truth is, in any relationship we have to trust so much. We have to have faith that it will work out and that the other person is as committed as we are. But we never really know.
Only God knows.