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Adelaide

I hold Adelaide in my arms gently. She is so fragile now. Her cheeks are hollow and she has dark circles around her eyelids. She looks up at me, her eyes the color of the ocean when a storm had just passed. They're incredibly emotional - you can tell how she is feeling by looking at her eyes. I stare at them as she tries to convince me she is okay with a light smile. She knows I know she's lying. Her eyes are tired; she is tired. She is so, very tired, and she doesn't want to try anymore. She's losing hope everyday, but she tells me that she's trying her hardest for me. I believe her...I really do.

I stroke Adelaide's face lightly and reach in to kiss her forehead. She smiles, an actual smile, and lays her head on my chest. She's listening to my heartbeat. She likes to fall asleep to it, that's what she tells me. She tells me that it helps her sleep better and whenever she does fall asleep to it, she dreams of better dreams. I like that I can help her sleep better. She rarely gets any these days; she's always too nauseous to sleep.

Adelaide was diagnosed with breast cancer exactly one year ago, February 6, 2010. She's made it such a long distance, but she's been through so much already. Her brunette, shoulder-length, curly hair fell out a week after chemotherapy. She bought a few wigs because she didn't want me to see her bald, but she became comfortable after the first few times I saw her without one. She's beautiful either way. She can pull off being bald; she has that edgy look to her. Although, when she had hair, it always smelled nice.

Anyway, Adelaide's parents were the first people she told. I was the last to know. She told me a few days after she was diagnosed, due to her going to the hospital. I didn't believe her at first, because she was always a curious person, wanting to the "what ifs" in life. But then I looked in her eyes, and I could tell she was telling the truth. She started to cry when I pulled her in for a tight embrace. I started crying, too.

She came home from the hospital a month ago. Just to spend time with the family.

I look at Adelaide. She looks at me.

She can't keep up anymore...she's going to die soon. We all know this, and as much as we don't want to accept it, we have to. She strokes my face, wiping a tear away from my cheek. Just the thought of not being with her for one night has my heart aching. And now...she's going to disappear, for forever.

I can't help myself crying. I know I should be strong for her, but I just can't help it. She says she's okay with dying. She says that she's content with how she's lived her life. I've taken everything she has offered me, and she's taken everything that I have offered her. She says she wouldn't have had it any other way.

I shield my face with both of my hands as I bite my lip, trying to stop crying. She slowly moves my hands away, and cups my face in her own. My left hand finds a way to her chest, right above where her heart is content. It's beating slowly. I look at her. She knows she's dying, and yet she smiles. A genuine smile, like it's okay that she's leaving. I start to say something, but she shushes me gingerly.

"Shh," she says. "It's all going to be okay. I promise you, with every atom in my body, everything will be okay."

I have to believe her. I have to. It's what she wants.

Her heartbeat is so faint...

"I love you, Adelaide," I say to her. And I do...so much.

She grins slowly, before saying, "Let me see you smile."

So, I smile. And she smiles. And she closes her eyes.

"I love you, too, Shean."

My left hand is still on her chest. I kiss her softly on the lips. Her heart has stopped beating. This unbelievable grief sinks in. I can't hold it any longer. Tears spill from my eyes, and I can't help but hold Adelaide. I cradle her in my arms. And suddenly, her parents walk in. They've already said their goodbyes, just a few hours after I came over. I look at them, tears coating my face. Adelaide's mother covers her mouth with her hand and starts sobbing uncontrollably. Adelaide's dad embraces her mom as silent tears run down his face.

It's been one week since Adelaide has died. She was cremated two days ago and we buried her urn yesterday. She was buried in Juneau, Alaska, right next to Alaska's gulf. She didn't want to be spread around; she liked the idea of being in one place. The only reason she was cremated was because she didn't like the idea of rotting away in a casket underneath the earth.

The day she died, I tattooed Adelaide's heart on my left palm, since it was the hand that was on her heart when it stopped beating. It's an anatomical heart, not those hearts you find on a schoolgirl's notebooks. The blood vessels trace my veins. I can feel her every time I run my fingers over the tattoo. Adelaide will always be with me. Her heart will always be with me. I will think of her every day, every hour, and every minute of the year. My choices will revolve around her. I will live for her.

I Love You, Adelaide.





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