I meant it, you know. When I told you “Til death do us part”. I meant it then and I still mean it now.
I mean to hold you close in the sunshine and when the dark clouds above us block out the light. I mean to stand by you when the road is long and treacherous, when the path is narrow and there is no end in sight. I mean to stay by you when the beauty of this life breaks our hearts.
I mean to live the rest of my life with you. Which means I’m dying first.
It was as if two worlds collided. She saw him across the room. He was so small, wrapped in the softest of blankets, held in the most loving of arms. Past Marge in her rocker muttering to herself as always, she hobbled toward him, slowly, surely, hands gripping her walker not so much from fear as from anticipation.
She reached out her hand, old, wrinkled, veins and sunspots spread across the back, and touched his soft baby cheek. His eyes fluttered open. They were the bluest of blue and she didn’t know it but her own blue eyes started sparkling.
The doors are about to open. She can hear the violin music soaring just beyond the doors in the sanctuary. A crowd of people await, ready to stand the moment they see her. But she doesn’t even think of them. She just thinks of him, waiting at the end of the aisle, waiting for her. She wonders if he is smiling or crying or both. She looks at the coordinator, anticipating the signal. Her white dress is flawless, the flowers in her hand are perfect.
She grasps her father’s arm. The doors swing wide and they begin to walk forward.
Remember that time we saw each other from across the room? I knew who you were. You knew who I was. We looked at each other and waited. I wanted to say something, to go over, to start talking to you. I think that’s what you were thinking too. And you didn’t make a move. And I didn’t make a move.
Isn’t it funny how two people can both want the same thing and be so terrified to do anything about it that they stand still and life keeps going and who knows what you and I might have been?
You were 84. Your face was wrinkled, your neck had extra skin folds, your hands were covered in sun spots. But when she walked into the room, you lit up like a firefly. You told me she was the best thing that had ever been yours. You had shaved your stubble because you wanted to look good for your wife. 61 years, you told me. 61 years and you still had a teenage-boy crush on her.
You said you didn’t know how much longer you had left. You said you didn’t want to leave her. You said you love her.
I couldn’t help but notice the way everything exploded around me. In front of my eyes, people and places. Emotion and passion and anger and indignation all mixed together in a pressure cooker and boom. Just watch the blaze ignite, consuming all manner of things in its wake. Things we hadn’t even dreamed of losing going up in the inferno.
And I just sit here on my couch, watching the fire creeping closer, flames licking at my door, smoke wafting toward me. I wait, hoping that somehow I will be kept safe, hoping that the fire will suddenly burn out.
I never thought it would come to this. You sitting there, saying those words. Me storming out of the room, speechless with anger. If we could see the word bubbles above our heads, comic strips in real life, mine would be blank spaces, shot throughout with emotions but utterly wordless.
Why is it that once I leave the room, the words come flooding back? The blank spaces fill up with text, cutting, sarcastic, biting. Perfect. But it’s too late to turn around and say them.
Which I suppose is just as well.
Words can be knives, piercing deep the heart.