“good bye… I love you… always and forever.”
For the ten days I sat in that hospital room… the machine attached to her never stopped beeping… it somehow gave me an odd reassurance that she was still alive. This beeping became part of my being… every change, every different sound registered immediately in my head as normal or not. I could put my head down on the side of the bed and close my eyes while holding her hand knowing exactly what was happening just by the sound of the beeps. The beeps were comforting but at the same time disheartening… sustaining her life but siphoning mine away… Every beep… a dagger to my heart… every time…
She was confined tightly to her hospital bed… her body was motionless… Countless tubes adorned her mouth… blood was stained on the beautiful porcelain skin on her cheek… her long thick red hair… once so flowing and enthralling was reduced to a tangled nest… unwashed for days… stained in blood, sweat… and my own tears. She would have never liked this… laying there… looking like this. She cared about her hair… her skin… how she was perceived. She had the gentlest soul but never wanted to appear helpless. But there she was… helpless… clinging to a fragment of life. Helpless was a feeling I knew well… for the ten days… I could do nothing to help… I could only watch her… and hope… for a miracle. But no matter how she looked… she was always the most beautiful woman in the world to me… and that no matter what was said to me, I never gave up hoping for a miracle…
I became obsessed with watching the numbers on the monitor. They would fluctuate but never in a good way…. never in a way that would promote the slightest bit of hope. My tear stained eyes would stare endlessly at the bags of sedation hug at the hospital bed’s side. As they would dissipate… they too would beep… louder and louder and louder… till a nurse would come in and hit a button…. It seemed like an eternity for them to come in… More beeps… more daggers… more tears.
I spoke to her often… searching… hoping… for some sign of acknowledgement. I tried to talk to her like there was nothing wrong…. like this was some sort of temporary set back that we would laugh about in a few weeks. I’m sure the shaking in my voice betrayed me but I kept the façade up and kept talking to her. I told her how much I loved her. How much I needed her. How much she changed me. I sang to her songs about love… about loss… and about how much she meant to me. I shared stories and the support others had shared with me… every email… every text message… every facebook post people sent to me were read to her. I just wanted her to hear how loved she was. She spent her entire existence not realizing how much she meant to be people. In all honesty aside form me, her family and a few friends… she thought the world didn’t understand her… didn’t want her… didn’t love her. I was thinking maybe it would wake her up… to realize how much she would be missed by so many besides me. I know that she heard them… I would see tears form in the corner of her eyes when I read them. I know they touched her heart. I can never thank everyone enough for that.
Over time, my hope started to fade. I found myself in the hospital bathroom, staring in the mirror often. The few days of no sleep aged me… the bags under my bloodshot eyes were black and prevalent. I was desperate… I had no other choice and no other option… but to abandon my principles and get down on my knees and pray… not for me… but for her… and all those that loved her. I made the promises all desperate men make… the bargains… the pledges… for her… but to no avail… there was still nothing… no sign of recovery… no sign of hope… no sign of life… If there truly was a god… I was forsaken long before that moment…
As I watched her in that bed, my mind could not suppress the thought of how much she hated this. She never wanted to burden anyone… she felt a five minute out of the way stop on the way home from work to pick up a pizza was too much of a burden for anyone… I could only imagine how she felt about this. If she could see the worried and sad looks on all our friends and family… if she would know how much my heart was being completely torn out of my chest… she would have felt guilty. She always felt guilty… but she never was… that’s what made her truly special.
A honk would permeate the air often… a loud, abrupt honk that would send chills down your spine… it signified a cough… she coughed… a lot…. as the tubes bothered her throat and made her do so. Her forehead would wrinkle in obvious discomfort when she did this… The nurses would lie and say she isn’t in pain… but really what are they supposed to say… that she is in terrible discomfort and pain? The nurses’ lies are justifiable as the truth can do no good… but… despite their lies… I know what I see… she hates this… everything about this. She just wants to be let go. She just wants ME to let her go.
The doctors would stream in and out of the room daily… disgusting vultures more concerned about how her organs would be used and who would next occupy her bed rather than trying to do anything to comfort me or save her. They had the blackest souls I ever met… they were so eager to push me to give up… to just cut off the one person who ever made this life worth living. She was more than my love, more than my wife… she was the reason the sun shined in my world… the reason the birds chirped in the morning… the reason my lips could make a smile… the reason my voice was capable of laughing… the reason my blood was warm… and the reason I breathed. Black souls like theirs would never understand… their darkness could never be able to accept a soul of pure light like hers… they would never know what it was like to love to someone like that… so I almost can’t blame them for being so heartless. I felt sorry for them more than anything… although I would have loved to throw them out a window out every time I was pushed to make a final decision and give up hope.
Not that the ten days didn’t contain any hope … there was a fleeting moment once. The nurse moved her and her eyes opened wide. I jumped up and my tears of joy were coupled with a cautious smile as I looked into those beautiful big brown eyes and said “hi baby… hi baby… hi baby”. I remember feeling so happy… maybe… she would respond… maybe… my miracle occurred… maybe… not… there was nothing… no response… no life behind the eyes… no soul left in her… they were only opened eyes… with nothing but emptiness. She shut them only a few seconds after she opened them… and I would never see those beautiful brown eyes again. It was a moment I will never forget… the moment that made me realize she wasn’t coming back… the moment all hope was extinguished from me.
Eventually the lack of sleep and the exhaustion of endlessly crying caught up to me… my body was broken… my mind destroyed… my heart was missing… I had nothing left inside me. I was at wit’s end dreading what I had to do so I became nasty… would yell at anyone who tried to console me… would push away anyone who offered any words of hope. I could no longer tolerate anyone… I just needed to be alone with her… so I could figure out just why life would be worth living without her. Something to this day, a year later, I still can’t figure out.
A few more days passed and the doctors and nurses were getting more and more aggressive… There is only so long they would let this continue… only so long they would house a lost cause. I was brought inside a private room where the options were coldly laid out before me… put tubes directly into her throat hooked up to a breathing machine… and find a permanent care facility for her where she would spend the rest of her days comatose in this condition till her heart gives out and she dies. The most I could hope for was that she would open her eyes from time to time… but they would be the same lifeless eyes that have haunted me everyday since that fleeting moment of hope… Or… to let her go… to sign away her life… to remove the life support… to give up on her and our life together… and let her die. They all say you will never regret making a decision that is obviously the right choice… but they are wrong… the right choice can be regretted every single moment of every day. I don’t care what people tell you about how it was what she would have wanted… the guilt of signing off on your wife’s death… giving up on her… and on your dreams together… is a heavy burden that I still can’t figure out how to carry.
My decision was made and there was no turning back… I stood at the edge of her hospital bed, already regretting my choice. The nurses left the room and pulled the curtains and shut the doors. I would have one final moment alone with her to tell her every last thing on my mind. I told her I loved her... that I’ll miss her… I promised her I would never love anyone as much as I loved her and I would find a way to make her proud of what she made me. I asked her to keep watch over me… I would need an angel to watch out for me as living without her would no doubt let darkness creep back into my soul and lead to careless decisions and irrational acts. I asked for her forgiveness for all the mistakes I made with her… for all the stupid things I did and thoughtless things that I said that caused pointless arguments that seem so trivial now. My final words to her were simple, “when they pull the life support… just go… do not fight it… just pass peacefully and quickly. Your job is done here.” Through all the tubes and wires… I found my way to her head and I kissed her one last time… the last time my lips would ever touch hers… and said “good bye… I love you… always and forever.”