Your Guardian Angel

March 30, 2008
By Megan Giles, Farmingville, NY

Her smile, a true one this time, makes my heart soar. These days it’s the only sight that does that to me anymore. Her time is running short, I can tell without much medical knowledge. The cancer is taking its toll at long last. I almost want to celebrate it. These past months have been dreadful for me. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must be for her, to have hurdle after hurdle to overcome. I saw her face all the time, an anguished skeletal mask. Her face used to be the most gorgeous thing I ever laid eyes on. Now her cheeks were sunken, dark purple bags under her eyes all the time. There was only skin on her bones now. It clung to them tightly as if it alone was trying to suffocate her.
She is dying. There is only one hope for her now, and even then, it might not be enough. She needs a heart transplant. If the cancer hadn’t taken over her heart, she wouldn’t be dying. But her heart grows weaker with each passing second as I play the piano for her and she listens from my lap. My chin rests on the smooth, hairless skin of her head.
“Love you,” she whispers weakly.
“Love you more,” I disagree lightly.
She smiles again and my eyes well up with tears of joy at the mere sight of it. She laughs, the sound like a butterfly’s wings fluttering, as my fingers fumble the notes slightly in shock. She has been smiling so much lately.
“Why do you smile so much now?” I ask curiously, for she has smiled more in the last two days than in the last months.
“I know my time left is short,” she murmurs. “I can feel my life slipping away. I’m trying to make the most of my time left with you.”
“There’s still a possibility of getting you a heart,” I remind her, though I know it’s virtually impossible. Only my heart matches her blood type and I need my heart to live.
“You know it’s too late now,” she sighs. “I want to die. It would be better than living in this pain. Even if I get a heart, I’ll still have a very bad prognosis. It’s not worth it.”
I want to protest, but my lips can’t do it. I know how she suffers. I have spent many sleepless nights trying to comfort her as she cries from pain.
“I’ll be there for you through it all,” I whisper.
“I know,” she replies.
I stop playing for her and lift her into my arms. We go to the couch, where I hold her on my lap. She grows gradually quieter and I can feel her breaths come in labored gasps.
“It’s almost time,” she says almost inaudibly.
My grip tightens around her bony figure. I press my lips to her own pale ones. She reaches up, the movement alone nearly taking her life away, and tangles her fingers in my hair. I can feel a few strands part company with my scalp but I don’t care. She could claw my eyes out if it pleased her. She is my whole heart, my true love.
She grows still in my arms and I feel her hand go limp. It remains in my hair as her chest stops rising. She lets out her last breath and I sigh in relief; her pain is gone. She will never suffer again. My Rachael is finally at peace.

Life goes on. I remarried to a wonderful woman, though my first and truest love has never left my heart. My wife understands. We are going to name our unborn daughter Rachael.
The breeze blows around us in the park as soon as we decide and I know we have made a perfect choice. My Rachael agrees with us. She seems happy I have learned to love again and it makes me smile.
My hair is tousled playfully by the newest gust of wind and I swear I can hear Rachael laughing joyfully at my goofy smile.

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