ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: Companion piece to Holding On by Ann.
A Little More Time
I'm still here. After all the pain, all the hope and the desperation, all the meds pumped into my weakening body, I'm still here. It won't be for much longer, I can feel it, but for now, I'm not leaving. The clear liquid slowly trickling through the tube and disappearing under my skin alleviates the pain and on some days, it makes me feel as light as a feather. In the rare moments when I have the energy to open my eyes, I observe the steady drip, knowing it's both relief and poison for my body.
She's still here, too. Every day she comes and sits with me, sometimes skipping work to be here, even though I made her promise to go in every day, but she's always been too stubborn to listen to me. When she comes in, she always checks the functionality of all the machines that beep and hum around me. I know that routine stems from the overwhelming feeling of helplessness and wanting to do something for me. Under different circumstances, I would laugh at her.
Different circumstances. Had things gone differently, she wouldn't be inspecting the machines in the first place. In a situation like ours, there are always so many whys and so many angry attempts to find a reason. Both of us knew from the start that there was none, but for awhile, it felt so good to be mad at someone, something. My lamentation of my state subsided with my strength; hers didn't. I've always thought that the one afflicted with the disease found it easier to face it in its full ugliness. She never told me but I felt she would have traded positions with me in a heartbeat.
But no matter on which side either of us are, we're in it together. It's this togetherness I choose to focus on. Remembering everything we had and have provides me with an unbelievable strength, and the fact that she's still with me gives me the willpower to hold on just a little longer, for her sake. She's so strong for me, and I fight for every day I can be with her.
The doctors told her I'm in a coma but I'm not as far away as they think. I still perceive a lot of my surroundings and pray that she knows it. From her little touches and quietly spoken words I know that she desperately hopes my mind is not lulled by the meds. If only I could let her know that I feel her presence, hear her voice. When she wraps her fingers around mine, I want to clutch her hand tightly; when I hear her strangled sobs, I want to wipe away her tears; when she tells me about her day, I want to comment and smile, but all I can do is follow that familiar voice with my mind.
I love it when she speaks to me, hearing all those little and seemingly unimportant things. She likes telling me about the garden, that the lilies are in full bloom, that she'll bring me some the next day. She curses the weeds that threaten to suffocate our tulips. The lawn needs mowing, she says. Mowing has always been my job, and for a brief moment I wonder what will become of the grass when I'm gone.
What a silly thing to worry about. What will happen to her when I'm gone? I hate the thought of causing her such anguish, wish that I could make it easier for her. The things I'd do to be awake long enough to tell her not to be sad, that I'm okay, that I'm thankful for our time together, that I'm not scared, not anymore. It's such a cliché but I don't want her to mourn me forever when I have to move on. She's given me so much and I want to give her the strength to let go when it's time.
But it's not time yet, I'm feeling way too alive inside for that. When her lips touch mine, my heart beats faster and my stomach does a somersault. After all this time, she can still make me feel like that. I try to return the light kiss, wanting to make her feel I'm with her, but my muscles fail me. I love you, too, I whisper in my mind in response to her parting words.
In some way, I'll always be with her. She'll keep me alive in her memories and in her love for me. Soon, I will have to leave. But today, today I will still be here when she returns, to listen to her voice and give her just a little more time.
Companion piece to Holding On by Ann
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