One Last Breath

August 12, 2010
Could you ever kill the one you love? Even if he asked you to? Tears seemed to be a permanent feature of mine now. They dripped down my already slick face and made little gray stains on the sheets.

“Please.”He croaked out. His hand outstretched to me, crinkling the hospital sheets. I took his hand quickly, startled by how fragile it felt. As if the bones weren’t as thick anymore, and his skin was now made of paper. He had held me in his strong arms, his hands, these hands, had held me against his chest and stroked my hair only a week ago. Promising to protect me, making me think as though with him nothing could touch me. I was safe. But now, here with him in this hospital, I felt as though I was the one protecting us, and we were both so vulnerable. His face was swollen, bruised, bandaged, but there were still those eyes I knew so well. Under all these bandages, stitches, bruises, swelling, and blood, he was still my Dan. He was still in there and there was no way I could do it.“Please.”He croaked again. I dropped my head into his sheets.

“I can’t so it Dan! I can‘t kill you! I lOVE you!”My cries were so muffled I didn’t even know if he understood me. Plus I was crying so hard, I was shaking. How could he ask me to do this? I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. But then again I didn’t want him to suffer. I knew he was in pain, despite all the morphine they were giving him. I loved him enough that I didn’t want him to suffer. But did I love him enough to let him go?

The turmoil inside me was overwhelming. I was drowning in uncertainty and sorrow.

“You know what the doctor said.”I did know what the doctor had said. I had replayed it in my mind over and over trying to figure out a different meaning for it. He had said that Dan had a thirty percent chance of living. But he would never walk again. His legs had been crushed too badly in the accident. His next surgery would remove both of them. The pervious ones had fixed the seven ribs he had broken, re-inflated the punctured lung, stopped most of the internal bleeding, and relieved a lot of the swelling on his brain. The extent of the damage to his brain was unclear. All I knew was that sometimes my Dan was there and other times all I got was a vacant stare. But my Dan was still in there somewhere. The man I had married and spent ten years of my life with. His fragile hand wiped the tears from my wet face. “It’s my time.” I cried harder. He was broken, he would never be the same. But I still loved him. Enough to put myself out of the equation? Enough to do what he asked, no matter what?

So with borrowed strength, I left his bedside and trudged over to his morphine drip. I cranked it, knowing from enough medical shows, that it would just feel like going to sleep for him. Then I unplugged all his machines. I moved slowly, my lips pressed together, trying to hold in desperate sobs. Once I was finished, I went back to his bedside. After watching him for a few moments, I couldn’t take it. I gently scooted my way onto the bed, careful not to jostle him too much. I wrapped my arms around him and pressed my face into the dip of his shoulder. Just like old times. I couldn’t bring myself to look in his eyes. To watch the light fade from them. If I closed my eyes, I could pretend that everything was normal. Nothing was wrong, we were just laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

His had stroked my hair and the thought of this being the last time made me want to throw up. As time ticked by, his hand became slower, his breathing shallower. When his chest was barely rising anymore, I let out a small sob. It was an accident, but a moment later, I felt Dan’s chest rise just a little more. As if he was fighting for just a little more air.

“I love you.”It was no more than a whisper. His chest fell and did not rise again. He was gone, free from all this worldly pain and suffering. But here I was, laying in a hospital bed with his corpse. A sea of grief spread out in front of me and I couldn’t see the other shore. And just as I was thrust in the black water, I realized I couldn’t swim.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Carlie said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm
Really good! This should be put in the magazine!
Carlie said...
Sept. 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Hey Lillie it is your sister! I love your stories! U rock!
Lillie said...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm
Very sad, but very well written and convincing.  I felt as if I was in the hospital room with them, looking on.
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