A Life Sentence

As he held his lovers hand a tear slowly ran down his face.  Although they had spent close to 65 years together he was not ready to say goodbye.  He clenched her hand tightly as she slowly began to take her last breaths.  Their children and grandchildren had come by each day the last week to visit with her, to cry and laugh with her.  To tell her all the things they needed to say.  All the love, and all the years together were summarized into a few sentences.  But, for now, for tonight during her last moments on this earth it was going to be just a man and his wife.  How it all started is how it all will end.

While they hold hands he thinks back to the start.  He remembers seeing this girl in his sophomore algebra class in his High School.  He remembers locking eyes for a split second and turning back to the chalkboard at the front of the room and peaking back at her and her eyes were still on him.  He wasn’t in love during that first glance, but he sure was after the second one.   But, he didn’t have the courage to say anything.  He wasn’t ready to make a move, but luckily for him he never had to.  She waited for the class to end and introduced herself to him and asked him to walk her to her next class.  She was in charge from that moment on.  She had his heart, his whole heart, from that moment on.

That short walk to her English class was the first of many for them.  They both didn’t know it at the time, obviously being just 16 years old you don’t think you will be with your lifetime partner.  You think about getting thru high school and having a best friend with you.  You think about all the school dances that you don’t have to ask someone to be your date.  He remembers that first dance together, and the red dress.  That red dress was HER color.  And she knew it too, when she wanted to get his attention or wanted to get her way with a purchase or a decision she would make sure she was wearing that color.  A subtle scarf with red in it, or even a red bra strap pulled a little closer to her neck so it was visible to him was all it took.

He couldn’t believe she was his girl.  None of it made sense to him, how this intelligent, beautiful girl wanted to waste her time with him.  All he knew was she smiled when she saw him.  Her smiled carried them during the tough times.  It had been years since he thought about that night their son had lost his life in the car accident.  The man is thought of as the strong one, but often times, and especially in this situation it was his wife who was the rock.  It was his wife that cleaned out their sons bedroom 2 days after the funeral while he sobbed and couldn’t even enter the room.  It was his wife that sat with their younger daughters and answered all their questions about their 17 year old idol and his death.  He watched her calmly handle their outbursts and how she just had knew all the right words to say to bring them comfort.

His mind was drifting in and out of memories and the reality he was facing now.  His wife, his best friend, his everything, was dying.  It was her time, she had lived 82 years.  Anyone would be happy with that many years.  Everyone would say that she lived a long happy life, but to him, it wasn’t long enough.  He wasn’t ready to have to imagine her smile.  He still saw this as unfair.  He knew now that he would not have her whenever it was his turn to go.  He had always envisioned them being in different seats.  He would be on the nursing home bed while his wife held him and told him stories of their past.  She would organize the kids visits and make sure the grandkids only saw him while he was still able to see them.  But, that wasn’t his reality.

He closed his eyes and squeezed her tiny frail hand a little tighter and drifted back into his thoughts.  This time though he felt she was with him and he stopped talking.  He just sat in thought.  He could feel her with him now.  He could feel her arms wrapped around his neck and his hands resting on her lower back as they danced to Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh at their youngest daughters wedding.  It was forever their song as he would tell his kids often about that color on her.  Every chance the kids got at every event they would play that song for their parents.  He remembered her reaching up to his ear and whispering “We did it” and smiling.  Their daughters were both married and starting their new lives, building their families, and Mom and Dad had made it.  He could feel her joy in that smile.  A little sense that all of it was worth it.

He paused in that memory, he remembered wanting that moment to last forever, just as he wanted these last few moments to last forever.  As he opened his eyes he watched as she took her last breath.  Tears were flowing from both of his eyes as he felt her hand lose it’s grip on his.  He could barely see through his tears but he watched as her mouth moved into a smile. She died a happy woman and he felt her love once last time.

Categories: Fiction

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