One Last Time

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 Everything happens for a reason. At least, that’s what people will tell you when they don’t know what they should say to you. Only the good die young. God needed him in Heaven more than he needed him on Earth. In ten minutes, I’ve heard every proper thing people are supposed to say at funerals. And though they’re being appropriate and proper, and their statements are supposed to be reassuring, I look to the front of the room, and he’s still lying in the casket. None of their comments will change that.
I can still hear it. The screech of tires on pavement, the empty dial tone that followed the screeching. I didn’t know at the time that those noises would lead me to this room, dressed in black, with eyes as red as roses and as dry as the desert. I didn’t know at the time that I had just heard the last sounds of his life.
Everyone says their condolences, and all I hear is the screech of tires. I’m given hugs that are meant to pass on strength, and each time I think of the last time I was in his arms. Each hug makes me weaker, but I can’t cry. My tears have dried on my cheeks over the last few days, and they refuse to be replaced.
I look at the casket, waiting for him to jump up with a big smile and tell me it was all a joke. I wait for him to tell me that he’s never leaving me, and then wrap me in his arms once again. But no matter how hard I wish for him to come back, I know he won’t. He’s gone, and a part of me left with him.
I told his mom that we were on the phone when it happened. I told her that I heard what happened, and she listened as I choked on my sibs. I expected her to be mad at me. I expected her to blame me. I blame myself. But she listened with open ears and a broken heart, and cried with me. She told me it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t his fault. It was only the drunk driver’s fault. The drunk driver that swerved out of his lane and caused a head-on collision. He walked away with only a broken nose and a few scrapes, and a death on his shoulders.
She asked me about his last words. For a while, I couldn’t bring myself to say it. Every time I thought about it, I had to picture my life without him. I life without his voice, his hugs, his kisses. A life without being able to look into his beautiful green eyes, and know that he’s mine. I finally told her tonight.
There came a point where I couldn’t bear to hear people with their forced condolences any longer. I stepped out of the room, and out of the building to be alone. I never saw his mom leave, but there she stood, leaning against the building.  Something inside of me let go, and I was finally able to say the words.
“He told me he loved me.” There, in the darkness outside of a funeral home, but voice was the only thing that filled the silence. I felt her eyes on me, and I continued. “I was mad at him at the time. For something so stupid. He could tell I was upset, and he was trying to make me happy, like always. But I didn’t want to be happy. I wanted to be mad. I wasn’t responding to anything he said, and there was a long silence. I could hear the sound of his tires gliding across the pavement. I heard him tapping on the steering wheel. And he simply said ‘I love you’. I didn’t say it back. I was so mad at him, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. All I said was, ‘Do you?’ and left it at that. I never told him that I love him, too. And then I heard the screech of his tires. The tapping on the steering wheel stopped. And then there was nothing.”
Tears flowed freely down my cheeks at this point, and I did nothing to hide them. “He knows,” is all she said before walking back into the funeral home. I stayed there with my thoughts for a few more minutes before following her back in.
Once inside, I approached his casket for the first time. I could feel eyes on me as I slowly walked forward. Seeing him like that nearly broke the courage I had built up, and I wanted to walk away. But I looked to the side and saw his mom there, with a look of sympathy and encouragement. I turned back to him, leaned over and kissed him on the forehead one last time, and simply whispered, “I love you, too.”






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