You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live.
— Joan Baez
I wish I had known that today would be the day that I died.
I’d sat down to watch the midday news next to my wife Amelia and relax a little before heading back outside to finish putting up the rest of the Christmas lights. I didn’t care that it was almost minus 40 degree Celsius. I just needed to get it done. Maybe all the old decorations would help to jog some of her memories.
I watched Amelia as she ate the grilled cheese sandwich I had made for her almost every day. She was passing her usual commentary on the news anchor’s choice of wardrobe and I smiled because that was one of the few thing that hadn’t changed about her.
I was tired so I tossed the remote onto the coffee table that still had all of our old photo albums strewn across it. There was no use in me putting them away. On a daily basis, we played a game where I quizzed her on the faces and the places within their pages. I wasn’t sure if it was helping but it was at least worth a try. When the boys came to visit, I never let on just how far gone she had gotten – it would only upset their already busy lives.
I closed my eyes for a quick nap and woke up to the oddest feeling.
When I opened my eyes, my wife was still on her fashion wardrobe rant but someone else was sitting next her. His hair was lily-white and unkempt and his face was drawn and tired. He looked sad and as if he hadn’t slept in years. And the sweater he was wearing looked strangely familiar.
Where the hell did this man come from and how had he gotten into my house?
I tried to say something but no voice would come. That is when I realized that I was standing in front of the couch looking at the two of them.
Wait, when had I gotten up from the couch?
“Doug, I want another grilled cheese sandwich.”
I watched as Amelia addressed the man by my name.
Doug? What the hell …?
I watched as Amelia poked the man a few times and he responded by promptly slumping over and falling onto the floor. Amelia wasn’t phased by his lifeless body on the floor next to her.
And that’s when I knew that I was gone.
“Well, if you aren’t going to do it, I’ll do it myself!”
I watched in horror as Amelia got up and headed to the kitchen, a place where I never let her go unattended. Nothing good ever happened when Amelia tried to use the appliances.
No, no, no…stop!
I found myself in the kitchen, watching her take the dirty fry pan from the sink. Amelia placed it back onto the stove, cranked the heat to High and walked back to the living room.
No, no, no!
Back on the couch, Amelia perused some of the pictures from the coffee table. She picked one up that had us standing under the Eiffel Tower on our 45th wedding anniversary. Amelia turned to my body at her feet.
“I don’t remember this one.” She placed the picture back down and continued watching television.
If only I had known that today would have been the day that I died, I would have told the boys the truth about the state of their mother, to explain to them, to prepare them. I would have told them everything was not okay, that I couldn’t leave her alone for too long, that they should have visited more during the years when she was better.
I looked at myself lying there so peacefully.
How long would it be for someone to realize that I was gone? Would today be the day that Amelia joined me?
©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.