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Songs from the Heart

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Prelude.

The first time I met him, I was at the hospital. He was sitting alone in the waiting room, waiting for an appointment, perhaps. The first thing I noticed about him wasn't the fact that he was bald; it was the tiny smile playing at the corner of his lips that caught my eye. When he looked up, my heartbeat accelerated inexplicably.

“Nice haircut,” he said with a smile.

Unconsciously, I reached up and touched the smooth scalp of my head – the root of incessant taunts that I have received – but somehow I knew he wasn't making fun of me. Maybe it was the way his eyes crinkled when he said it; or maybe it's because I liked him.

“Thanks,” I said, smiling sheepishly. “You can call me Emily.”

The rest was history.


Verse

We only met on wednesdays. So, in a way, wednesday was Our Day. We'd sit next to each other and hold each other's tub as the other puked their guts out. We'd talk about anything – school, friends, family – just not about cancer.

He was a musician, and so was I. Sometimes we'd write songs while receiving chemo, stopping periodically to puke. He'd laugh and wait patiently for me to finish. Never was he grossed out by my foul-smelling vomit. Jake was great in that way. He made bad things seem... not so bad.


Chorus

The day he said “I love you”, was the best day of my life. He sang me one of the songs we wrote together, titled “52 Wednesdays and a Thousand More to Go”.

As he sang, my heart was doing a little song and dance of its own – alla rubato. I realized how happy I was. My heart had been dead for so long, but now it was thriving, bursting with song – alive – and right then, I knew exactly what to say:

“I love you, too.”


La coda.

A cry escaped from my lips. It was an ugly, warped sound, coming from the deep recesses of my heart; from a place I didn't even know existed. I was sobbing so hard that it drowned out every other sound in the periphery. Everyone was staring, but I could'nt care less. I was determined to sing this one last song for us – for him.

It was a song of unspoken grief, the melody interwoven with undertones of suffering, of pain. The tempo was erratic and inconsistent, as I paused sporadically to swallow deep gulps of air before continuing on to the next verse. My constant gasping coupled with the slow shattering of my heart were accompaniments to the song.

I walked over to his grave and allowed the handful of dirt in my hands to slip through my fingers. The grains of dirt striking the coffin sounded like rain. As the last grain fell from the palm of my hand, I closed my eyes and exhaled. Our song had ended.



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