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WARNING: This short story contains some language that you may find offensive!


 

He sat on a chair near the window watching as his wife of 5 years lay dying in the bed before him. They’d known this would happen for sometime now but for him it was all happening too fast. Knowing constantly that there was nothing the doctors could do to save her, hadn’t prepared him for this or bring him to terms with the fact he was losing his soul mate. All the advance notice in the world couldn’t prepare him for what had become his life.
She’d been diagnosed with the brain tumour last year, which in reality hadn’t been that far back but for him what seemed like a lifetime ago. He’d been finishing out the tour when she’d got the test results back. He’d been convinced the headaches, dizziness and passing out would all turn out to be nothing more than migraines brought on by the sun so when she called him to tell him at his hotel room when she got home from the hospital it hit him hard.

 

Lying on his bed winding down from the concert his cell phone disturbed him from falling asleep. He checked the screen, thinking that if it was someone he didn’t want to talk to that he’d ignore it and just call them back tomorrow but it was his wife. "Hi babe." He greeted her.
"Hi, how’s your day been?" She asked causing him to smile. She always thought to ask about his day before he had a chance to ask about hers.
"Exhausting, yours?"
"Ah, so-so. I got my test results today." She said coming straight to the point of his late phone call.
"And?"
"Are you sitting down?"
"Actually I’m lying down, why? Are they bad?" He asked bolting into an upright position as panic overcame him.
"They could be better. I’ve got a tumour on my brain."
"Tumour? That’s cancer isn’t it?"
"Yeah."
"So what are they gonna do? When are they gonna get rid of it?"
"They can’t babe. If they remove it chances are that I could end up brain damaged."
"So what’s gonna happen?"
"I’m gonna have chemo but if that doesn’t work then there’s not a lot they can do."
"What does that mean?"
"The doctor has given me 3 months."
"3 months… for what?"
"Do I have to say it?"
His eyes welled up immediately, "That’s it, 3 months?"
"I know that doesn’t really seem long but the doctors said that’s like a lifetime for the cancer I have, in the place that it is."
"A lifetime." He repeated as tears flowed down his face. "That’s barely enough time for anything. We have so much to do together."

 

She was surprisingly brave; it was him that broke down in tears. He’d cried like a baby after that phone call, he continued to cry throughout his flight and once he got home to her he was a quivering wreak but still she was strong. He cried for days, for weeks, he was still crying.
The day he’d flown home to be with her had been his last day on the road, his last tour. The last time he sang one of his songs, the last time he’d done many things. But none of that concerned him, he was there for his wife and that’s all that mattered right now. He’d pick up his life one day, hoping he still could. The group were still successful, they were just one member short but the guys, the management, the record company and the fans all understood. He was losing his wife so even if they hadn’t he still would’ve gone ahead and quit the group. But as it was everyone was being incredibly supportive. He had so much love  throughout the world that he felt lucky, but none of that was the same as the love he got from her.

 

He lay in bed alone. It was unusual for him to be sleeping in his own bed let alone be the first one there but here he was lying awake waiting for her to come home. She’d called a few hours before to let him know that she had a conclusion to write up before she even thought about leaving the office. He’d cursed at her for working so hard but she’d just told him he worried too much. She was right, he did. He didn’t like to think of her on her own as daylight disappeared to night. He wasn’t lay there too much longer before he heard their apartment door creek open. That brought a smile to his face. He’d been meaning to oil the door since they’d moved in 18 months before but he just never got around to it and she would always remind him about it as they were going out. He listened to her creep inside the room and stumble over his sneakers that he just threw onto the floor earlier. He thought he heard her curse but wasn’t sure. Still pretending to be asleep he heard her disappear into the bathroom for a shower only to return quarter of an hour later and climb into bed beside him. He was lay with his back to her and smiled as her arm slid around his waist and he felt her body press against him.
"You awake?" She asked in a whisper.
"Of course, can’t you hear me snoring?" He responded still smiling.
"I thought you were just having a good dream." He could tell by her voice that she was smiling too.
"I was."
"What was it about?"
He shifted in bed to face her, "It was about this incredibly beautiful woman who took my breath away the moment I saw her, that took my words with a single kiss and that consumed my heart with a love unlike any I had known."
She kissed him, "That’s sweet."
"But then you woke me up and I realised she was just a dream."
Her arm moved from around him, "Why do I put up with you?" She joked.
"Because you love me." Was his response.
"Yeah well, I’m not so sure about that any more."
"Ah baby, are you pouting?" He knew her far too well; even with the lights out he knew her facial expressions.
"I don’t pout."
"Oh I believe you do." He said leaning up on his elbow and kissing her.
"So tell me what you plan to do to make it up to me." She asked seductively. He kissed her lips again before moving down her neck to her chest. She cooed as her body tingled for every touch. But as his lips lowered to her breasts she pushed him on his back, "You’ve been a naughty boy." She said straddling across him. "Naughty boy’s must be punished."
"Um… sounds like I’m not going to enjoy this one bit."
"Oh no, I’d say you’re definitely not going to enjoy this… much." She said lowering to kiss him.

 

He sat and watched her, lying there, doing nothing but sleep. That’s all she seemed to have been doing for months now, she was hardly able to do anything else. He watched her slowly deteriorate before his eyes. She went from a hard working lawyer, vibrant and in the prime of her life to just one step from a vegetable, withered and looking like an old lady. He’d been there through every step, reminding her to take the pills she needed to be taking, all the chemotherapy treatment she’d had, to mop up the vomit she hadn’t been able to keep down on her way to the bathroom, to supply her with head scarf’s and wigs when the hair loss became visible, there was nothing he could do about the weight loss but he tried to get her to eat as often as he could. He’d been there for her. He was her husband; it was something he vowed to do. But it slowly killed him inside watching everyday as the pain consumed her and knowing he was powerless to ease it or stop it.

 

It was 3 months since her diagnosis and they found themselves sitting at home just waiting for it to happen, waiting for her to die. But he had made a point to change that by planning a small secret vacation for them at Daytona Beach. They were only 3 days into their 14-night stay when they were walking along the beach hand in hand. He looked at her as she looked down, watching as the sand caressed her feet, and he smiled. Even though she was wearing a head scarf and had lost 20 pounds since the treatment had started, she was still beautiful to him. She would always be. Her eyes glided up to his face to catch him looking at her, "What?" She asked.
He was snapped from his thoughts, "I was just thinking about how much I love you."
"Oh yeah, how much?"
They stopped walking and he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind her, "Now see that’s hard to put into words because if I said to the moon and back, it wouldn’t be enough. If I said until the numbers ended, still wouldn’t be enough. But if I said more than all the love in the world, would you believe me? Would you think it was enough?"
"More than enough. But you don’t need to tell me; I see it in your eyes every time you look at me. I feel it in your arms when you hold me. I feel it in your lips when you kiss me and I feel it flow throughout my body when we make love. So, you don’t need to say it. I just love the words you use to express it." He lowered his head and kissed her gently on her neck as she looked out to sea, "When I’m gone I don’t want you to stop living your life wishing I was still with you." She said out of the blue.
He was stunned, "I can’t promise you that."
She turned to face him, "Can you promise to try?"
His eyes lowered to the floor between them, tears creeping from his eyes, "You’re my everything and even if the world stopped turning I’m gonna love you, so how can you ask me to get on with my life without you?"
"Because it’s the way of the world. People die, we grieve, we get on with our lives."
"Well the world sucks because you shouldn’t be taken from me, not now, not ever."
She started to cry with him, "I know this is hard for you, it’s hard for me too but we have to talk about it." She paused. "I don’t want you to live your life alone."
"And I don’t want to live my life with anyone but you."
"If I could stay I would but obviously God has plans for me up there and he can’t wait. I just need to know that you’re gonna be all right without me before I go."
"I’ve got my family and the guys, I’ll be fine but don’t ask me to forget you."
As she opened her mouth to speak a pain shot through her skull causing her to clutch it and collapse to the beach at his feet.

 

It got worse from there. So much worse that he hardly recognized her anymore. Although he knew she was still the same person he’d fell in love with and married without hesitation, he found it hard to believe it was really her. There was no trace of anything that made her who she was.

 

He watched as she sat across the table eating breakfast, she was so pale these days, which made her look ill. She hadn’t looked ill before, not this ill so it was hard for him to get used to. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by her voice; "Huh?" He asked making it clear he hadn’t been listening.
"I asked what you were staring at." She snapped at him.
"You look ill." He said mindlessly.
"Well news flash, I have cancer." She shouted getting to her feet.
"Now where are you going?" His voice was soft.
"Fuck in hell, I’m going to the bathroom. Is that okay with you or do you want to fucking hold my hand?"
He shook his head as he watched her leave the room. Lately everyday had become like this. She’d shout and curse at him. The doctors said it was something that happened, brought on by the cancer, and that she wouldn’t realise she was doing it. But it hurt him more and more each day as he watched her turn into someone she wasn’t. She never shouted much less cursed and it cut him up to hear those vile words come out of her mouth.

 

She was a fighter, yet he couldn’t helping thinking she’d given up, confined to her bed was just not in her nature and although it was hard for her to walk, he thought she’d put up more of a fight to just lying there.

 

He climbed out of bed and turned to look at his wife. She was awake but she was just lying there, "Are you getting out of bed today?" He asked her with a smile hoping to start a conversation. It didn’t. She just shook her head and continued to look out of the window at the sky. He sighed and walked into the bathroom to take a bath. They hardly talked anymore, they used to talk all the time, she’d tell him everything on her mind whenever she thought it even if that meant waking him in the middle of the night just for her to say ‘I love you’ but now it was hard for him to get her to say more than 2 words to him. He was exhausted; taking care of her everyday was beginning to take its toll.

 

She used to smile spontaneously just to let him know she was happy, even when she was cooking breakfast or running late for work but she didn’t smile anymore. All he wanted was to see her smile again, just once. He wanted to make her last days with him good ones but that was hard to do since she’d ended up here, in the hospital. ‘It’s the best place for her’ he’d tell himself.
But the past few days he’d been asking himself if it really was. ‘Is it really the best place for her to be?’ ‘Is this the best place for her to die?’ ‘Would she want to die here?’ ‘Would I want to die here or would I want to go to the place where I was most happiest?’ He couldn’t ask her questions like that. Even though they knew in the end it was going to happen, to talk about death – the place where she wanted to die – seemed to be facing the reality that it wasn’t far away. It was getting closer now. He could see it.

 

"Open wide." He told her as he moved the forkful of food toward her mouth. It was like feeding a baby and he hated doing it, but she had to eat and she refused to feed herself. She turned her head to signal she didn’t want it, "C’mon, open up." He encouraged.
That’s when she knocked the fork from his hand, sending the mashed up potato to the floor, "I don’t want it." She shouted cutting her eyes at him.
He sighed, "You gotta eat something."
"What’s the point?" She asked helplessly.
"You gotta eat." He whispered.
Suddenly she burst into tears, "I’m dying, eating isn’t gonna change that."
Getting up from his chair he sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around her with tears of his own beginning to fall, "You need to keep your strength up."
"I don’t want to be strong any more. I want to die. I want it over. It hurts too much. I just want to die now."
"You can’t give up like this."
"I’ve already given up. I’m ready for this to be over."

 

Tears made their way down his face. His wife was dying and he couldn’t stop it. No one could. She was only in her 20’s, why was it she was being taken from him so soon? He’d asked that question so many times but he’d never gotten an answer, not yet.
Suddenly she jerked where she lay. She did that more often than not these days, it was something he’d gotten so used to her doing that he didn’t react to it anymore. The doctors said it had something to do with the tumour putting pressure on her brain, telling her body she wanted to move when she didn’t want it to.
His eyes shifted to the window and he looked beyond the glass to find the sun shining down on the ground below. It seemed so wrong that the sun shone when all he wanted was for it to rain, covering up the tears he cried. It was wrong that people were getting on with their lives when his was falling apart, he wanted to stop the world and scream at them that he was losing everything he’d ever known, to make them sit up and take notice of his pain. But he knew that would never happen. They would go on with their lives regardless of what was happening.
The heart monitor started to send out a high-pitched continuous noise, which caused 2 nurses and a doctor to rush into the room, but he just stood there watching from the window.
"She’s gone into cardiac arrest." He heard the doctor say. "There’s nothing we can do now."
"What about CPR?" One nurse asked.
"She signed to say she didn’t want to be resuscitated." He replied compassionately.
The other nurse looked over to her husband to find he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening but looking from the window and made her way over to him.
As he stood there he could swear he saw her, stood in the garden among the rose bed wearing a long white gown, she was smiling. But as the nurse tapped him on the shoulder, she was gone.
"Sir, your wife…" The nurse started.
"She’s gone." He whispered.
"I’m sorry."
Suddenly he turned to her and then looked across at his wife, "She’s gone?" He asked. She nodded. "Can I be alone with her?"
"Of course." The nurse replied before walking from the room.
He made his way over to the bed and looked down at her body lying on the bed before him. He could swear he saw her eyes flicker. Still he stared. She didn’t look dead, she looked peaceful… finally. He lowered to the chair beside her bed and took her hand in his but he didn’t cry. She’d been dead for a matter of minutes but still he didn’t cry. Slowly he brought her hand up to his mouth and kissed it. "I love you to the moon and back with more than all the love in the world until the numbers end." He said. That’s when his tears came. He loved her, so why had she been taken from him? She loved him, so why did she have to go?
He sat there holding her hand, sobbing with his head rested on the bed for what seemed like minutes before the nurse came back, "Excuse me Sir but we have to move her body now." She said sympathetically.
Wiping his eyes he nodded and got to his feet. He looked down at her again before lowering to kiss her forehead. "I love you." He repeated stepping back. He watched as the nurse pushed the bed from the room and sighed. Reaching for his coat from the chair beside the window he caught a glimpse of the outside. The sun was still shining; the people still bustled about, just like nothing had happened. He stayed there for minutes lingering in that room, taking one last look around before grabbing his coat and leaving. Now all he had to do was go home and tell their 3-year-old daughter that mommy wasn’t coming home.


© bentley76@blueyonder.co.uk 2001