Of all I knew, her held too few.
And would you stop me, if I try to stop you.
Old songs stay 'til the end.
Sad songs remind me of friends.
And the way it is, I could leave it all
And I ask myself, would you care at all.
When I drive alone at night, I see the streetlights as fairgrounds
And I tried a hundred times to see the road signs as Day-Glo
Now for words. Shorter today because my toddler is in a mood. Can't wait to read yours!
The streetlights flickered as he drove. He wondered where he would sleep tonight. He fiddled with the radio and turned it off sinking back into his seat.
She was gone.
He felt the aching at the back of his throat and swallowed. He remembered her in that white dress, barefoot against the new green grass of spring. The promises they made on that day bound them together and when he carried her across the threshold of their tiny apartment their life really began. The memories of a life before her had already faded. He couldn’t remember what life was like before pancakes at noon or champagne at midnight. She would read books while he played video games and she always left kisses against the foggy mirror.
On that day she was sitting in the center of the couch, her hazel eyes red from crying. It was stage four and eating away at her insides.
“I thought I was too young,” she said into his shoulder, void of emotion. “I didn’t get checked. I thought breast cancer happened to older people.”
“We can beat this,” he said. “You’ll see, chemo and radiation and you’ll be in remission before you know it.”
He thought about those words, often. When she was so sick she slept in the bathroom. When her hair came out in clumps. When he shaved his too in solidarity. When she was so thin he was worried the slightest touch would break her. When she cried about the parts of her that made her a woman, the parts they cut away and what that meant.
“I love you for your eyes and your brain and your smile and your beating heart,” he said. “The rest were just bonuses. As long as I have you, nothing else matters.”
She would have smiled but the sores in her mouth hurt too much.
And then one day she woke up and wanted pancakes. He made them and she ate three whole pancakes. She laughed. She put on the hat his mother knit and they went out into the autumn cold in gloves and scarves. She stepped on every golden leaf and he remembered what it was like to be in love with her before she was sick. That night they spooned like they were in the silverware drawer. He held her thin and frail body to his and prayed for her to live forever.
That morning she was barely breathing. She didn’t even open her eyes when they lifted her into the ambulance or stuck her with needles in the hospital. He held her hand and whispered old memories in her ear, hoping she would wake up and they could run away together.
But she didn’t. She faded like the credits of a movie, the end of something beautiful. The single line on the monitor wasn’t a surprise. It was a knife in the heart, a knife he knew was coming. When he put her in the ground while holding her mother’s shaking hand, he wondered if God was real.
He still wasn’t sure. The road was long and lonely. Around his neck he had her wedding rings, dragging him down like chains deeper into despair. He didn’t know where he was going. He just knew he was alone.