The Goodbye

As we walked yet again that cool evening, I looked into her eyes once more and thanked my maker for the gift.
Until she came along, I was one of those men who doubted if love existed.
But with her dreamy eyes and teasing smile, I drifted and fell in love until I forget myself in her existence.
There are some events in life we, humans, have control over but I had no control over this.
Or who would have thought one could find love in a place like a hospital?
But that was exactly where I found mine.
I visited my sick mom that April morning and in my sadness and fear of losing my one remaining parent, I wandered into the Hospital lobby and sat there.
Until she walked to me and sat beside me, I never saw her.
But when she touched my arm lightly and called to me, something drew me to her.
And though eight months had passed, I still feel drawn to her whether I’m far or near.
Those eight months were the shortest of my life.
And it was a smooth ride from then.
But walking beside her that evening, I could sense this was all about to change.
Just two weeks after our wedding, it seemed the storm had finally hit.
The light in her eyes was gone and the smile that had always brighten her face was now curved sardonically.
‘What is the problem, Rita?’ I asked.
Though she tried frantically to cover it up, I saw a tinge of sadness pass over her face.
‘What is the matter?’
‘Nothing’, she was finally able to muttter.
But the sound and manner of that one word confirmed all my fears.
I knew something was wrong. And terribly so.
After much nudging that involved me holding her hand and putting on a fake frown, she opened up.
‘I’m dying’. She whispered.
I never heard a more painful statement all my life.
I stopped in my stride and held her hands which had become cold.
‘I…I…I don’t understand’ was all I could say.
I wanted to ask more and say much more but my voice failed me.
My courage left me.
She led me by the hand to the shade of a large tree by the road and told it all.
She told me of how her mother had died around her age, just two years after birthing her.
She also told me of the first time she saw the signs, the diagnosis and the result that delivered the blow.
‘I have oesophagal cancer and would only live two weeks more.’
‘The cancer was diagnosed late, it is in its advanced stage and even breathing would be hard for me’.
I rested my back against the trunk of the tree and took it all in.
I tried but I couldn’t just keep the tears in.
Rita too couldn’t.
‘I received the report today. I didn’t tell you of the tests because I hoped the test won’t come out positive.’
‘But they did’.
Those last three words broke my heart, and the tears that ran down her eyes as she uttered them hurt me.
She held her hands to her chest and cried until her feet couldn’t hold her anymore.
When she stretched her hand to me for support, I held it and drew her into my embrace.
I knew I should say something to comfort her but my throat became hot and dry, tears blurred my vision, pain blocked my thoughts and my voice was lost.
I just stood there and held her as more tears ran down my eyes.
We clinged to each other for a long time until I was able to find my voice, and even then, all that came out was a whisper.
Still holding her, with sweats on my back and my nose now blocked from tears, I lowered my head towards her ears.
‘I love you Rita, I love you very much’.
‘All will be well, I promise.’
But even though tears blurred my vision and I could not see her face, I could see that all would never be well.
‘I thought and promised I would love you forever’. I was awashed with much sorry.
‘Who would have thought forever would be so short?’ I wondered aloud.
We held hands so tightly as our fingers clinged to one another.
‘But we have two weeks’, Rita said and raised her clasped hands to my chest as she tried to look into my eyes.
‘Yes, we do’.
‘It is just too short. I always thought I had you for a lifetime’.
I cried silently.


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