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In All Our Years

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The steady alarm sounding from the monitors above his bed penetrated my short sleep. My aged muscles worked as I sat up to hold his wrinkled hand in my own. His eyes were closed, preventing me from gazing into his soul like I’ve done so often in all our years we’ve spent together. Flashes of teal pass by the room as people carry on with their jobs, with their lives. Hours could pass by and I would still be sitting in this chair, memorizing all the lines of his face and reminiscing in all of our memories.
I collided with something sturdy and the books in my arms dropped to the ground. Mumbling an apology, I crouched to pick them up only to have my hands tucked into two larger ones. I glanced up into his face to see a gentle smile spread across his lips. We introduced ourselves as we lifted my books from the grass and moved beneath the shade of a tree to converse with each other. I felt drawn to him immediately and just beginning college, I knew I would need an acquaintance, if not a friend.
A sigh escaped my lips and I glanced at the clock. Four more hours. The tube breathing for him creaked and shuddered in his mouth. I stared at his lips. I stared at the cheerless mouth that had smiled for so long and then suddenly stopped. My eyes stung from unfallen tears.
I wrung my hands together as my reflection stared back at me from the polished glass. The soft fabric of my skirt whispered ever so slightly against the bare skin of my thighs. Butterflies flitted around my stomach and my hand pressed against the outside of my abdomen. I have no idea why I’m so nervous about this. We’ve known each other for months and gotten closer with each passing day. I made my way to the door with my purse slung over my shoulder. As soon as I saw his gentle green eyes, all my anxiety slipped away and it was just us. We had a delightful lunch with no lull in conversation. A perfect first date, concluded with a stroll downtown, his fingers laced through mine.
The glass door, sliding open then closed again, tore me from my memories. A doctor, dressed in teal scrubs, stood before me with a clipboard. She asked me about organ donation and I questioned whether or not you could use organs from a man his age. She described how amazing the condition of his organs were for a man his age and repeated the question. She made me sign my consent at the bottom of a form after I agreed. He would want to save as many lives as he could. He was always trying to do the right thing.
“We’re going to the beach.” That was all he said and he lead me from my apartment down to his car. Graduation had changed my perspective on life and now I was ready for everything. The sand was soft between my toes as we stepped out onto the golden beach. The water was clear and I could see a red lighthouse in the distance. He made sure the blanket was free of any sand before he set down our backpack filled with sandwiches. Then he pulled out the ring. A larger black diamond flanked by two smaller, blue ones ran down the middle with stands of silver woven in between. When he lifted it out of its box to slide it onto my finger, I noticed the date we met etched into the band. My arms wound around his neck, pulling him close and never intending to let go.
I spun the ring around my finger nervously. The deadline was rapidly approaching with two hours left. My back was starting scream in pain from sitting in this chair so long and my eyelids were starting to droop again. As tears fell down my cheeks, I climbed onto the bed and laid down next to my love. His body was still warm from the blood circulating through it, but I knew he was gone. I knew he had moved on from this world and it was killing me to feel his heart beating but I would never be able to hear his voice again.
My chest heaved as my breathing quickened. I watched the doors open again as the next bridesmaid and groomsman walked down the aisle together. I pressed my hand into my stomach to calm the butterflies raging inside me. The doors swung open again and it was my turn to walk down the aisle. The blood drained from my face and I saw my husband to be staring with loving eyes. I forced one foot in front of the other, fighting my urge to hurl everything out of my stomach. The pastor started talking but all of his words were drowned out by the blood roaring through my ears. His eyes steadily gazed into mine and all of my anxiety washed away. I may not have wanted this huge wedding but I knew that I would never regret the man I was marrying.
My phone buzzed in my pocket but I swiftly turned it off. I knew it was my sister, calling to make sure I was okay or if I wanted her to drive over and console me. I didn’t want to talk to anyone right now. I just wanted to spend my last few moments with him alone, in silence. I turned my head to look up at his face, my silver curls wisping across his cheek. We had spent many nights in this very position, conversing about each other and about the world. As we grew older, those conversation were mostly about our time together. We would recall even the most horrid of memories and cry about them together.
He stood next to the paper-covered table as the doctor attempted to find our baby with an ultrasound. He held my hand and we both watched the screen as a form came up. The doctor stared at it for a few minutes before wiping the wand clean and setting it next to the now blank screen. He delivered the news and left the room as I cried into my husband’s chest. He calmed me enough to take me home and lay me in the bath. I stared at him as he smoothed my hair, making sure I was okay. The doctor had informed me I would be experiencing heavy bleeding as my body tried to rid itself of the infection that had killed my child. I just didn’t expect the flood of tears that would come with it.
It was time.
Four hours had come and gone. The doctors wore sullen faces as they informed me that I would be able to see him after the operation to recover his organs. I soon stood alone in an empty room, haunted by the memory of my love.






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