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Drip, drip, drip. The sound of the IV is all I can hear in this silent room. The light drifting in from the curtains tells me that the world still goes on, even though it feels as if my world has fallen apart. You never think that day will come that you will lose a loved one. In the stale white bed beside me lays my husband, Jackson. At the age of forty-five, he is a healthy and active man. The heart attack came suddenly, like a tornado leaving destruction and mayhem in its wake. Jackson hasn’t been conscious for thirty-eight hours. All I can do is pray and hope that the man I love isn’t lost forever.
When I was seven, I moved to a new neighborhood in a fancy new house. My dad had gotten a new job, and it turned out that my parent’s friends lived next door. They had a son named Jackson. Being the only children in our families, we soon started to become friends. We would play in his enormous backyard. As kids, we could create anything and be anything we wanted. If we wanted to be pirates, Jackson’s backyard would be our pirate ship. We were best friends. After a year, everything took a turn for the worse. Betty, Jackson’s mother, had become sick. The doctors informed us that she had no longer than a few weeks. I could see it in Jackson’s eyes, that as his mother weakened, so did he. He no longer felt the need to play, but instead sat and watched his mother, warily with tears threatening to fall from his eyes. Desperately trying to get Jackson to think about anything but his mother, I convinced Jackson to play hide and seek. I was hidden away when I heard the feeble whisper of Betty.
“The only wish I have is for Jackson and Abby to always have each other. That is the only thing I want.”
The next day we went to visit Betty, but instead saw Jackson on the porch steps, head ducked in his hands. He looked up, and I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of a broken boy. She was gone.
Nine Years Later
I was walking through the crowded halls of the school, trying to get through the day. It had been nine years since Betty had passed away. About a year after her death, Jackson and his father had moved to a new town and out friendship ceased as we lost touch. I hadn’t really talked to Jackson since then. Our parents still talked every few months, but other than that all communication had been lost. Today especially, I had been thinking about the boy I used to call my best friend. I wonder what he’s doing. How has he been? Does he ever think about me? Does he even remember me? It wasn’t the first time I wished we were still friends. Then, I felt a slight vibration in my pocket, pulling me out of my daze. It was from my mother.
Come home immediately after school.
The day was in a constant flux after that. I walked into my house and called out, announcing my presence.
“In here,” my mother called.
I followed the sound of her voice to the kitchen, stopping dead in my tracks when it came into view. Seated at the kitchen table were my mom, my father – and could it be- Jackson, and his father? I hardly recognized the boy, but his striking blue eyes gave him away. This boy was handsome, with a well groomed head of black hair that fell slightly into his eyes. When he saw me, he smiled with recognition.
“Abby,” he said.
I smiled shyly and made my way over to the table. Could this really be that little boy I used to play pirates with? I replied with a quiet “hello.”
“Abby, Jackson and his father are moving back to the neighborhood. I expect you to make them feel welcome,” my mother replied.
Gladly, I thought. That’s where it all began.
Jackson and I hung out all the time. I took him to my favorite ice cream shop, to that spot on the beach where you could see the sunset perfectly, and to the place where they made the best burgers. Our friendship grew and it was as if we had never been separated. Then, one day Jackson asked me to go to a place where I hadn’t dared take him: his mother’s grave. When we found the monument inscribed with his mother’s name, I immediately felt the sadness emitting from him. We said nothing but instead stood in silence. I looked at Jackson’s face, and noticed his shiny blue eyes, filling with tears. I grabbed him by the shoulders and hugged him tightly. We held on to each other, relishing in the memory of her. He let me go and leaned back.
“Thank you for being there for me. You’re the best friend that I could ask for,” he said. And just like that, out lips met.
Six Years Later
The sky was a mix of purples, pinks, reds, and oranges as the sun set over the water.
“Remember when we were kids and you used to try to make me play Barbie’s with you?”
“Of course. I always got so mad because you never would, although I remember playing cops and robbers with you,” I laughed replaying the old memories in my head. Jackson and I had been a couple for a long time now. We simply adored each other, and the fact was that I had fallen head over heels in love with him.
“When we were kids, I overheard your mom telling mine that her only wish was for us to be together,” I murmured quietly.
“Well it looks like she got her wish. But if you say yes, you’ll be making my wish come true too,’’ he smiled.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, surprised.
“Abby,” Jackson said getting down on one knee. He pulled out a black velvet case from his jacket pocket.
“I’ve known you since we were kids, and you have been with me through so much. You have never given up on me. I never want to lose you. My mother isn’t the only one who wishes for us to be together. Make both of our wishes come true. Marry me, Abby?” he asked with hope in his eyes.
Is this really happening?
I could feel the heat creeping up to my cheeks, my mouth opened wide. I took a deep breath, my heart pounding in my ears.
“Yes,” I breathed, ready for forever.
Looking back on my life, I cannot imagine having to live without him. I began to pray, but not to God; to Betty. You said you wanted us to be together. Please, don’t let me lose him. I felt my heart breaking, just thinking about it. When Jackson is gone, who will I have to talk to, to protect me, to make me feel safe? After Jackson and I got married, we had two kids. Even though they are grown now, how will they handle not having a father? Will our grandchildren never get to meet their grandpa? There were so many things that would fall apart. While I was ranting on and on, I heard a sound. It was a quiet sound, like someone clearing their throat. Was I going crazy? I looked around, wondering where it came from. Then, Jackson began to open his eyes. Those same deep blue eyes that I had been best friends with; The same eyes that had kissed me when I comforted him; The same eyes that I had fallen in love with.
“Jackson,” I whispered, a tear escaping my eye. I hugged him tightly. Looking at his handsome face, I knew I had witnessed a miracle. As I held on to him, I only had one thought.
Thank you Betty.