OAKLAND, Calif. -- For Dr. Jean Tagore, there was no peace in the truth, only anger.
Yesterday, police told Dr. Tagore that his invalid wife, Anne, was dead.
"They killed the beauty of my life. There wasn't even one last kiss, not even a goodbye," he said.
So ended a love affair that began in a Paris cafe 28 years earlier, survived a bus accident in 1971 that left Anne Tagore brain-damaged and endured the heartache of a childless marriage.
Dr. Tagore blamed firefighters for blocking his return to his house to get his wife, 54, as flames advanced swiftly toward his neighborhood Sunday.
"I was totally in love with her," said Dr. Tagore, 55. "I didn't care if my life was in danger. I promised her I'd take care of her, no matter what. It was the only time I ever failed her."
Dr. Tagore, a wealthy psychiatrist who was wearing the same yellow shirt and black jeans from three days earlier, returned to the ashes of his Oakland hills house yesterday.
Nothing remained except a blue ceramic urn, some charred sheet music, and cement steps leading down the side of the house.
He was walking down the steps when a police officer shouted for him to go no farther. His wife's remains had been found in the south end of the house.
Dr. Tagore collapsed in the officer's arms, sobbing.
He said he was tormented by visions of his wife, confused and disoriented, running from room to room as the fire engulfed the house.
"My greatest accomplishment was falling in love with a woman and staying by her side through ev erything," Dr. Tagore said.
"My greatest failure was not doing my duty as a husband and a man to fight through the barricade and get her out alive."