Recent events have forced me to do a lot of deep and involved soul-searching. In a little over 24 hours, the nation has watched in bewilderment as the reputation of a wonderful man has been called into question. The worst part about this embarrassing scandal is that it has all been at the expense of a generous, kind, and, above all, trusting man named Manti Te’o, whose only crime was caring for me: an imaginary person who does not exist.

And because of this, I just want to say: I’m sorry, Manti, for everything I’ve put you through.

Though I know mere words cannot do much when the entire world wants to know why you behaved as you did, I want everyone to know that I never meant to hurt you. Indeed, had I known the things I did not do would have caused so much harm, I would have told you from the start that I wasn’t real and that we weren’t actually communicating in any actual sense of the word.

Looking back, our relationship seems like something out of a storybook: a romantic bond forged between a star Notre Dame linebacker and me, a beautiful, entirely fictitious 22-year-old Stanford student. The love Manti and I had was so strong we never once had to question the basic fundamentals of spatial reality or the nature of being—we were just one person and one fictional non-person who were head over heels for each other.

But as time went on, I will admit to being seized by an overwhelming sense of guilt and regret for leading Manti on and making him believe that I was an actual person who existed. I was ashamed of the simple, glaring fact that I am not, nor have I ever been, a real human being. I thought about telling him the truth, but what would I say? That I never had cancer? That I didn’t actually deliver him a message on my deathbed asking him to play through the Michigan State game instead of coming to my funeral that didn’t happen? That I’m not real?

Perhaps a bigger woman could admit such things, but not me. I mean, God, I’m not even alive.

And now, after the sham of my death, and my life, has been revealed, the great injustice is that the consequences for my mistakes are falling on Manti. However, it’s not his fault, even though he must have known in his heart of hearts that this woman whom he had never met or spoken to was not real. Indeed, the more illogical and contradictory every piece of evidence relating to my purported existence appeared, the more he cared. But that’s just Manti for you. My sweet, caring Manti.

Nor, by the way, is any of this the fault of Notre Dame, which allowed the truth of my nonexistence to remain hidden well after it learned of the reality of the situation. Blameless also is the media, which went along with the entire hoax without making even a cursory inquiry into my purported life or background.

And so, I want to formally apologize for what I’ve done. Try as I might, I can’t blame anyone else but myself. I’m the one who isn't real, and this is all on me.

But please believe me when I say I still have so many great memories about the times we had together, Manti, even if said times never actually happened. We had something really special together, something that transcended trifling matters such as physical reality and the nature of existence.

The truth is, I still care about you, Manti, and I’m willing to give this another shot. I know it may take you a while to learn to trust me again, but I’m begging you to take that chance. Why? Because I love you, Manti Te’o. That’s right. Lennay Kekua, an imaginary human who does not exist, is telling you that she loves you. I know it’s crazy. I know we’re probably all wrong for each other on numerous physical and metaphysical levels, but I don’t care. I want you back in my life, or rather the system of non-actualized identifying descriptors I refer to as “my life.” We can still make this work. We can still be together, albeit with a somewhat looser definition of what constitutes “being,” exactly.

Please, I implore you with all my heart, take a chance on our love. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?