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'Til Death Do Us Part
Prom is over. That phone call ended it for me. The world slows into a blur. I vaguely register the worried glances at me while Mac, Max’s twin sister, cries.
“C’mon,” Julie, my best friend grabs her keys and pulls us out the door. “We’re going.”
The drive to the hospital is a daze. Those five words run through my mind. Max’s been in an accident. When we rush in, I fake being Max’s sister and run to his room. I stop when I see him. He doesn’t look like the Max I know and love. His normally flushed skin is pale with scratches, his is easy grin is gone, and his vibrant eyes closed. I gasp when his body remains motionless as Mac continues to sob.
His mom comes out and sighs. Seeing me, she tells me what I need to hear. “He’s unconscious now but he should be awake in a few hours.” I breathe a sigh of relief while she walks away.
Mac comes out, tears streaking her face. “Go in. I know he’ll want you to be the first face he sees when he wakes up.” I hug her and wait inside.
The minutes go by slowly. The clock ticks. I sit by him only leaving once to call my mom.
“Hello?” she answers drowsily.
“Mom? It’s me,” I tell her.
“Rose?” she asks suddenly alert. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s—It’s Max,” I say. “He’s been in an accident.”
“Oh, my god!”
“Yeah. I don’t know when I’ll be home. He should be fine but he’s unconscious now,” I manage out.
“Okay. That’s good,” she sighs.
“Mom, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” I cry into the phone.
“It’ll be okay, honey. Remember, love never fails.”
Once I get back, I don’t do anything else. Soon one hour passes. Then two. Three hours are gone.
Suddenly, Max’s eyes flutter open. He looks over at me and whispers, “Rose.”
And that’s when I broke down crying.
Somehow I manage to alert the nurses and tell Mac through my tears.
I sit down outside his room. My sobs begin to subside when Mac and her parents finally came out of his room. His dad is hugging Max’s mom and he looks like he’s seen death . Mac’s face is contorted with despair and depression. I look up in worry as she grimly says, “Max wants to see you.”
“Hey,” I say softly while resuming my old seat.
“Hey,” he replies faintly. Registering my dress he exclaims, “I ruined prom! I’m so sorry!”
I look at him in shock. “I’m two seconds from punching you.”
“Why?” he asks surprised.
“You were unconscious from a car accident and you honestly think I care about prom?!”
He lets out a weak laugh. My heart flutters. I forgot how much I love that laugh. After a few moments of silence, I tell him, “Max, I’m really sorry. All that stuff with Jake, it meant nothing. I didn’t to be with him. I was just trying to make you jealous, not cheat on you. I thought you would walk in on us together not Jake trying to kiss me. I just wanted you to tell me—I just wanted to know you liked me. I’m so, so sorry.”
He looks at me with no anger only compassion. “I know, Rose. I know.”
I start to cry again.
“Oh, my god, Rose!” he says, alarmed. “Are you okay?!”
I nod and sniffle. “Crying is my new thing.”
“Really,” he says, surprised. He leans forward to brush away a tear.
“Look what you’ve done to me,” I tell him with mock anger. “I used to never cry! I refused to cry! Now I cry all the time. This is what I get for loving you!”
He sits back shocked. “What?”
“Why do you think I went to all that trouble to find out if you did? Max, I love you.”
Then he kissed me. If there had been any doubt of my love, it was gone. At this point, I wouldn’t care if he slapped me, broke up with me, or killed me. His simple existence makes me happy.
“I love you, too, Rose. Always have, always will. I love you.”
“So are you okay?” I finally remember to ask. Max suddenly seems serious. He breaks his gaze and looks out the window, sighing sadly. Wait, why is he sighing? I hesitantly say, “Max?”
He turns to me. He begins, “I don’t know how to tell you this.”
“Tell me what?” I ask distressed.
“Rose, I’m not okay.”
“Well obviously! You were in an accident!”
Max tries to explain, “No. I mean I’m not going home. I’m not in good shape.”
I’m confused. “So when will you go home? In a few days? I know everyone will be so happy! They’re going to be so excited when they find out you’re awake!”
“Rose!” he snaps.
“What?!” I shout, starting to get angry. “Just tell me! Tell me if you’re okay or not!”
He sighs and rubs his forehead. “Rose, I’m not going home ever. I’m never going to make it out of the hospital doors. And not because I’m weak. My-my organs…they’re-they're failing, Rose.”
Max Andrew Porter died on Saturday June 26, 2010.
He received his high school diploma in his hospital room. I, Rose McCarthy, stayed by his side until he drew his final breath. Max will be missed by those he loved and who were loved by him, namely, me.
I love you, Max.