She hadn't always been this way. An empty shell. A reliquary that served to hold what remained of the woman she'd once been. Before she got sick. But that was a lifetime ago.
I think back to that time. Before. I think back to the night I told her I loved her for the first time. She was laughing; the best sound in the world.
I could listen to it a thousand times and never grow bored, like an old favorite record. She was drowned out as the band plays some song about growing old. But we weren't old yet.
We were young then.
I remember when we found out. The beginning of the end- I just didn't know it yet. But I think you did.
I still had hope then.
They called you and in those two minutes, the world changed.
Two minutes is all it took for our old lives to end. Two minutes for our new lives to begin. If you could call it living.
"Cover me, I'm cold." Your voice is small, breathless. I pull a thick blanket over your chest. You're too weak to do it yourself; pale, paper-thin skin stretched over protruding bone.
A living skeleton. A corpse that just didn't know its heart had stopped beating. Fragile like a dandelion blowing away in the breeze.
"This burden is getting heavy," he thought and then immediately regretted; guilt pooled like thick syrup in his stomach.
But her illness sat between them always; he could feel it on the bed beside him, nestled in the space separating tired husband from sick wife.
He wanted to reach out ad touch her, but the invisible leech blocked his hand. She sighed too loudly next to him. "This burden's getting heavy." Her whispered voice was trembling.
He pretended to be asleep, pretended he didn’t hear her.
"I like to daydream," she had told him. She'd been lucid all morning. That was rare now.
"About what?" he'd asked. She didn't answer; her eyes lost their clarity, growing dull. The sickness, that invisible leech, had stolen her from him once more.
"I hope your daydreams are filled with good things. I hope you imagine someplace peaceful. Somewhere far, far away from this bed, where you can fly as high as a bird."
It was raining the morning I buried you. You used to love the rain, remember? Before you got sick. You used to dance in it. Dance and laugh, soaking wet and freezing cold, but you didn't care.
It's fitting, that it's raining on the day of your funeral. The last time I saw you breathing, I don't think you could even see the storm raging outside of the hospital windows.
I hope it's raining wherever you are. I hope you're strong enough to dance in it, like you did when we were young.
I didn't mean to call you a burden, by the way.
If it was a choice between having you here while you were sick and not having you at all, well, that's not really a choice. We both know which option I'd pick. At least we'd still be together.
Forgive me, I know that's selfish. But how am I supposed to face tomorrow without you here? You were my today. You were my tomorrow.
I didn't even get to tell you I loved you before you left. God, I don't even remember the last time I said it out loud. I should have voiced how I felt for you more often.
I always thought it. But now I'm afraid you didn't know much I loved you because I didn't tell you enough.
The last time I said 'I love you'... ......I didn't know it would be the last time.