Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
TITLE: The Last Goodbye
By Margaret Villanueva
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I walk slowly around your bed for the last time. I was cowardly-I did not stay with you when the doctor removed the breathing tube. I was afraid that in its death throes your body would rise up and accuse me—point at me and blame me for not being strong enough to bring you back to the living by pure force of will. I hear your quiet voice hush me. I know you don’t accuse me. You love me-more completely now than ever before.
You are so quiet, querido. It is hard getting used to the emptiness in this room. Your body remains, but your voice has been forever stilled. Your eyes will never again shine with the glow of love and mischief. There will be no more early morning conversations, no more late night debates. My love, sleep. You have earned your rest.
I continue my journey of farewell. It seems a million miles around your bedside. As I bid you farewell, I lovingly touch your arms—so cold! And yet your chest is still warm. The extremities lose warmth first. I file the extraneous information somewhere in the back of my mind and move on.
Your face is still and peaceful. The battle is over. Over at 35. You will never again hunt or fish, shoot with your children or drink with the boys. I miss you so-my heart is breaking already. How can I ever live without you? Ssh. Now isn’t the time for these thoughts. There will be many achingly lonely nights for that. Now is the time to say goodbye.
But how can I tell you goodbye, my love? You were my life. Yours was the only lover’s caress I ever knew. Your kiss, your touch, your scent all were like home to me. I can still hear your voice. Will it always call out to me in spirit as it does now? I hear you, my darling. You tell me that all is well. You are safe with Him. My love, I know that. Please understand that I’m happy for you. But my dear, I am so sad for me.
I know that this time must end. We have to part. It takes every bit of strength that I have for me to walk to the door. But then I realize that I’m not yet ready to leave. I come back to you, take your icy hand in mind, and beg you to remember me. Wait for me. Keep me in your heart as I keep you in mine. I seem to hear your voice say, once again, “ssh” Your still body somehow is able to let me know that you will not forget me. When I see you in Paradise, you will remember me. You will take me by the hand and together we will come to the feet of the Savior.
Sleep well, my husband, until then.
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