What Sarah Said

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Sometimes in life, there are those things you would rather not be doing. There are the classics like another monotonous day at work or scrubbing the inevitable soap scum off the shower. But then there are those rare occasions that you have to do something you have no say in, those things that happen and you have to drop everything in life to tend to it. You could say that’s where I was.

That day had the potential to be great. The sun was out after days of rain, the wind was slightly blowing, and it was just about that time of year where every time you take a step outside, the leaves seem to become more vibrant then the last time you saw them. It was beautiful, and I had every intention of draining the day of everything it had to offer. That was the plan, but as we all know, a plan is just a prayer to Father Time.
I started the day as any other, with a hot cup of coffee in one hand and the morning newspaper in the other, heading out to the sunroom to watch the sun rise on yet another perfect morning before trudging off to my study to write yet another article on yet another subject I could care less about. I set my cup on the stained coaster at the edge of the table, and prepared the newspaper for reading. Just as I was about to crack open the first page to continue a story on a local runaway, the phone rang. You could say this startled me at the very least, mainly because it was about six thirty in the morning and I’m not accustomed to getting phone calls at this time of day. I walked over and answered the phone, but after that, I can’t really share with you what had happened because the very next thing I remember, I was storming through the doors of St. Monica’s Hospital in a desperate search for anyone who could tell me more; where she was, what had happened, when I could see her, anything.
When I was finally able to find an available nurse, she tried to calm me down and have me sit in the waiting room until she could get me more information. I didn’t like this one bit; these people should be taking me straight to her. She was my wife; I had every right to see her immediately, no mater what time it was or how bad she was. I just needed to know she was all right, that she wasn’t going to--. I couldn’t even bring myself to think such a thing. Of course she was going to make it. About that time, Dr. Feinstein rounded the corner, holding a clipboard, the kind of clipboard that means it isn’t just a few scraps and bruises that we can take care of in a few hours. This clipboard, this silver metal clipboard that, on an average day, wouldn’t mean anything to anyone, hit me like a truck. I collapsed in the nearest chair; completely unaware of the closeness in proximity I was to yet another suffering man.
“Mr. Cole, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Your ex-wife was in a car accident last night, and…I’m afraid she might not pull through…” The words that followed were nothing more than mush to me. All that mattered was those first few sentences. He didn’t think she was going to live. He didn’t think she was going to live.
“Oh, God,” was all I could say, as my head dropped into my hands. I couldn’t keep myself from crying. Sarah was the only thing I had in this life that truly mattered to me, and now something out of my control was about to take her completely away from me. There was no waiting around for her this time. This was a final decision.
“Mr. Cole, are you listening? Anthony, I said if you please follow me, I could take you to her.” My head, still unable to rise, simply rotated in the cup my hands formed, and looked up at him. Did he just say what I thought he said? Can I see her now? “Anthony, I know this is hard for you to understand, but she doesn’t have much time, and I think it would be crucial if you followed me.” By some miracle, I was able to stand and march behind him down the hallways that reeked for piss and 409. We rounded a corner and I saw the sign, “Intensive Care Unit”. This is the place where we only say goodbye. Her room wasn’t much farther, and once we entered the doorway, I understood just what Dr. Feinstein was trying to tell me. She was hooked up to a number of machines, attempting to keep her alive for a few more hours. Her steady heartbeat blipped on the LCD screen every few seconds, and it was those blips that kept me sane for another second or two. As her heartbeat would slow, mine would quicken, and as hers became steady once more, mine would do the same.
I’m not quite sure how long I stood there in the doorway, unable to move for fear that if I did, I would just wake up from a horrible dream that I would never be able to forgive myself for having, but once I realized I was still standing there, I moved across the room and seated myself in a cold-backed chair that scraped along the floor as I dragged it closer to her. I grabbed her hand, and it was as if I could slowly feel life escaping from her. Fingers gone cold, and skin like marble, I had never seen her like this before, seen her body in so much pain, and yet her soul completely content. Dried blood stuck to the swollen left side of her face. Her eye seemed lost in the puffiness, and her nose was definitely broken. I didn’t dare look at the rest of her body, mainly because I didn’t know what I would have done when I actually saw what had happened to her. All I remembered that the doctor had said was internal bleeding and ruptured something or another. I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, and frankly I didn’t want to know. All that mattered now was that I was with my one true love again, and I had every intention on staying with her until she was no more.

Now, you probably noticed the doctor said “ex-wife”. That’s true. Sarah and I separated a few months back. She said that she needed space and that we were growing apart. Well, I never felt that we were growing apart at all. I loved her with all my heart, and until that moment, I thought she felt the same. Yet, I gave her the space she longed for and found a place across town for the time being. It wasn’t the same as at my house that she now occupied but like I said, “for the time being”. I didn’t intend on staying there long, but we were honing in on five months now, which is longer than I thought it would be. I could honestly say it was the longest five months of my life. Every day I wished we were together again, and every night I crawled into bed, hoping that she would be there beside me, only to be disappointed once more.
I was all she had in this world, and she was all I had as well. Both our parents had died years ago, and we were only children without children of our own. As I sat holding her hand, I thought of all the times she talked about having kids, but we were two busy people, living very stressful lives. Starting a family was out of the question, but as I looked at her lying in the hospital bed, I wanted nothing more than for her to have my child. I would keep the child and love it as I loved her, and in a way, it would be as if she was there too. That dream was gone now. There was no possible way that desire could ever be conceived at this point for in a few short hours, she would be gone.
“Sir, you look awfully tired. Why don’t you try and get a wink of sleep. It’ll make you feel more at ease,” the weathered nurse said. He voice startled me, but I just looked up at her with tired, puffy eyes, and she knew I wasn’t going to sleep at all today. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll get you a cup of coffee. How about that?” I guess I was thirstier than I thought because I got up and followed her to the hallway lined with vending machines. The second to the last one was a coffee machine, and as she put her quarters in, I tried to stop her. I told her I could get it, and that it was a nice gesture, but she insisted.
“You’re suffering enough. I don’t need to break your pocketbook too,” I just smiled at her as she handed me a cup of strong black coffee, patted my back, and walked away. Now that I was out of Sarah’s room, it was easier for me to stay away, so I decided a nice walk would be beneficial. I strolled up and down the corridors, sneaking peaks into other rooms. In doing this, I was reassured that I wasn’t the only one in pain today. There was a mother watching her little boy slowly slip away from her, and a whole family watching their father as the descending peaks on the LCD took him a little farther away from them. I walked a few yards until I was back to the waiting room.
Instead of finding a seat, I just stood against the wall, arms crossed, cup of joe in hand, and observed what took place every day there. I looked around at all the eyes on the ground as the TV entertained itself. There was no comfort in the waiting room, just nervous pacers bracing for bad news. The nurse came in and everyone lifted their heads. I walked away before I could take in the looks and the tears from that of yet another suffering group of individuals. All I could think of was the day that Sarah’s mother died in that very same hospital. I had walked in the room and told Sarah that she didn’t need to watch her mother slip away, that it was too painful for her, and I would watch her instead. Sarah looked up at me, eyes full of tears and said, “Love is watching someone die.”
With that, I knew where I was supposed to be. I entered her room, tossed my empty cup in the garbage can, and took my place beside her bed. I slowly slipped my hand under hers, and held it, until four twenty-seven this morning, when it was all over with. I know this may sound bad, but she had been so peaceful all night, I couldn’t tell she was still alive to be honest. If the doctors hadn’t came in and told me the moment she was gone, I would have thought I was sitting with her lifeless body all night. To tell you the truth, it wouldn’t really matter. The serene expression on her porcelain face was enough to keep me staring at her all through the night. I don’t even remember crying, but I obviously did because when the nurse asked me how I was, I looked up at her and she just walked over and hugged me. She hugged me like she felt my pain, like it was her wife that just left her forever. When she let go of me, she handed me a tissue and said that she was so sorry, and I believed her. I knew she really was sorry for me, and I felt a little better in the thought that someone who didn’t even know anything about me would take up space in her heart to feel my pain.
This wasn’t a place of comfort, no matter who came in or came out. Some made it while others didn’t. The inevitability of pain and suffering insulated these walls, while the chance for health went untouched like the year old magazines that sat in the middle of the waiting room. I walked out of her room, rounded the corner, and walked out of the hospital. There was no reason for me to be there any longer, and I had no intentions of overstaying my welcome. There were a lot of things that had to be done now, so I figured I might as well get a head start on them.
So, here I am, sitting in my sunroom, six twenty-nine in the morning, watching as the sun tries to rise through the thick blanket of clouds. I take hold my cup of coffee, sip it slowly and set it back down on the stained coaster at the edge of the table. Grabbing the morning paper, I fold it back up, set it aside, and pick up the stack of papers that have to tend to before tomorrow. Even after everything passes and the feelings start to fade, there is so much work to be done, so much work you would rather not





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