This was not how I had planned to die. The slow beeping of the machine, the warm hand compressed in mine. No, I had wanted to be wrapped in my lover’s arms,not swaddled in the cold, crisp sheets shoved between bed rails. I would have looked one more time into his eyes and proclaimed my love with a gentle kiss, not struggle to squeeze some worker’s hand.
Where have they gone to? The things I wished I had done. There were many and few. Many wants became a few needs.
I shrugged off love at every opportunity. How dare someone think I worthy of it? After all, I didn’t have the time for sweet kisses and loving embraces.
I wanted to go to Europe, to the Orient. I wanted to have a vacation that didn’t have me sleeping off all the overtime, or struggling to catch up on errands. I don’t have time OR the money. But really I did.
I would walk down the street and watch the painter, the writer, or see actor on TV. I wanted to write, to paint, to act. Even though every day for me was an act, the entire world my stage. “Everything is fine,” said I. And it was for a time. Time which I didn’t have to give away for some “frivolous joy”. Ha, listen to me, the girl who had scorned joy, as if joy could be a frivolous thing and not an intrinsic need. Without it, I found my life a chore.
I had wished I had done many things in my life, but working more is not one of them.
I thought I would welcome the peace of death. Yet I find myself cowering under his steady gaze.
“I just need a little more time,” I said, trying to not to grovel. You can’t beg anything of death anymore than you manufacture time.
“Why grandma, you had more time than that hiker I took in an avalanche, more than that teacher I stole in a school shooting, and certainly more than that little boy lost his battle with cancer. Dear one, you never battled any such hardship, you only stole life from yourself.”
My eyes would weep if they had the strength, so my heart aches doubly so in their absence.
I can feel the emptiness in the room, but for the hand in mine. I give it one last soft squeeze, a fitting transferrance of all my wisdom and courage to a stranger.
Perhaps as he or she stands to notify the rest of the staff, perhaps this person will take heed of my cautionary tale.
Maybe they will take that vacation to Tahiti, accept that date, or volunteer. Anything, anything but putting it off until tomorrow, next year, retirement.
After all, no one is guarantee any of those things.