Good morning, my sweet. We slept late, didn’t we? Claudia called and said she will be a little late, but will make it before I leave. Don’t scowl. I’ll be back before dinner. You’ll have a good time with Claudia. She’s a real television lady. “One Life to Live...” “All My Children...” I’ll bet you know them as well as I once did. It’s a vicarious experience. Remember when you would tell me that? The window to the world. The seashore, the city... Well, it’s something anyway.
Doesn’t the coffee smell good? I’d miss it too, but after the tracheotomy... They said it wouldn’t hurt but it looks awful. Still, breathing comes first.
I’d roll you up to a sitting position but the mechanism to your bed is broken. Let’s see if I can turn you. I know it’s hard to stay in one position all night. Remember how I used to complain about my back? Now I can do a pretty mean two‑step. A man’s arms around me ‑ I’d forgotten how it felt. But life begins at forty..
I need to make up for years with a man always out of town. In twenty-six years I raised four children alone. Now your traveling days are over, home all day, every day. Together forever, in sickness and in health. Who would have thought it would end this way with machines, tubes and the prevailing smell.
Oh - I shouldn’t have said that. You used to be so pressed and neat, a real classy guy with a diamond ring, although you said it was glass. Were you trying to keep me from feeling bad? Years ago that kind of logic made sense.
Still, I really did love you. With you in the ambulance, I thought I’d never stop crying. Running back and forth from the hospital, I was afraid you would die. But after a while it got to be routine. You were just out of town.
It’s too bad that the kids don’t come to visit. After all you’ve done, teaching them to compete, be the best, take hard knocks, give as much as you got... How they’d scramble and divide the cookie, the ice-cream, the candy bar over and over again. They never caught on to your torment.
It took a while to sift through our records and bills. I guess the diamond ring was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. If I had known, I wouldn’t have been so careful with money. Imagine, three safety deposit boxes! Where did the money come from? Did you play the lottery? Hold down two jobs? Deal drugs?
Are you trying to say something? What a pity. How often I begged you to talk to me. But back then you found everything else more interesting ‑ the weather, TV, the cereal box...
I thought you were the smartest man in the world. You could answer any question. Philosophy? Music? Finance? You knew it all. But it wasn’t conversation. It was a lecture ‑ and half the time it wasn’t true. Your speech was so confident, how was I to know? Then it became an event for you say anything.
But now there’s lots of time. Are you concerned about what I did with the stocks and bonds? Annuities? Let me tell you. We liquidated everything. Oh, now don’t get upset. We just upgraded some of the old standbys and invested in more profitable ventures. We’re doing pretty well. Tony knows about the business world.
Oh, that’s right, you haven’t met. He’s a good friend. Okay, it’s more than that. You know about those things, don’t you, my dear? By my count, you had five. Of course, there might have been more that slipped my notice. Four kids can be a distraction. I’ll admit it took a while to catch on there too, but we’ve already acknowledged you were smarter than me. The kids knew about them first, then your sister and later, your Mom. But I didn’t talk about it because I couldn’t afford to. Imagine my surprise when I learned I could have had a comfortable divorce.
Well, the courts did me a favor anyway. Do you know you’re incompetent? I didn’t have enough brains to handle the grocery money, yet the courts turned your estate over to me. Just goes to show how wrong you can be.
Now let’s get down to business. The pillow is all plumped up, soft and fluffy. It will be easy for me to hold it just like this. No struggle. A quiet death, much less painful than bedsores. Ah, now your eyes are open wide. I wonder how often you’ve looked at me like that ‑ really looked at me. I still find it exhilarating. You were my first love. Why should your eyes remind me?
I can still get choked up remembering what we shared, even though it was over too soon. I thought you were wonderful for a long time. You made everything you touched, everything you did, seem important ‑ a real big deal. I thought because we were married I’d be a big deal too. But I was only your home‑grown audience, expected to applaud.
Even now, you’re a big deal. You left your family well fixed. Of course, the medical bills could wipe us out, but saying that out loud seems cold and heartless, doesn’t it?
Actually, your suffering has kept people in awe even though you are a helpless vegetable. Of course they don’t hear you moaning and groaning all night. I suspect you’d be screaming from the housetop if you could.
Well, we might as well finish the job. There’s no quality in your life. You’re a drain on the insurance, on my time and on my emotional life. Notice that I put my own feelings last. But I will grieve for you. I will also grieve for my marriage, my youth, my dreams and my lack of awareness, thinking that I was happy. But you reap what you sow. As usual, you were right.
It won’t hurt, I promise. You’ll have a minute or two of confusion and then feel pleasingly light‑headed. That’s all. Maybe a little discomfort, but I know you’ll understand. Tough it out, remember?
So let’s get at it. Breathe deep. It’s your own pure carbon dioxide. It’s the best ‑ right?
Are you impressed with how strong I am? Adrenaline gives power. Our love‑making generated lots of adrenaline too. Too bad we didn’t make better use of it. But it’s the present that matters. You are in a profoundly weakened condition, already half dead, so asphyxia will come quick. That’s it. Lie still. Relax.
It will look like a tragic accident. A big man like you often thrashes around during the night. The blankets and sheets got entangled. You’re paralyzed and couldn’t pull them off. Unfortunately, I was in the bathroom and couldn’t hear. Your head slips forward and there you are, trapped. Poor thing, you did struggle.
Of course they will speculate. If only his wife had heard him. If only the nurse hadn’t been late they might have found him in time. If only one of the kids had stopped over to visit...The nature of tragedy.
Well my sweet, I must go and take my shower. I have a lunch date with our financial adviser. You see, this whole thing was spur of the moment. Not that I haven’t thought of it before. It’s just that suddenly, it seemed the thing to do.
Rest in peace, my sweet. You will have a lovely funeral. I can’t promise many mourners, but that’s out of my control. If it consoles you at all, my tears will be real. A skilled undertaker will make you handsome again. You will have the best that money can buy.
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