Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Sunset of Our Lives
The sun was setting behind a thin string of clouds hovering on the horizon, appearing as if they were hanging on for dear life, fighting the weight of gravity pulling them into the great beyond. I glanced over at Mabel, my long time love, bathed in the salmon hue the sky was showing off for us. “What are you thinking about?” I asked, feeling the pensive emotions rolling off of her like the coming tide.
Turning to face me, she caressed my cheek, running her fingers along my jaw and dropping it to her lap. “I just can’t believe it’s been sixty years.”
She didn’t even need to continue. I knew exactly what she was referring to. Our time as water skiing acrobats at Cyprus Gardens so many years ago. “What’s not to believe? That we were actually nimble enough to do those tricks or that we fell in love and are still together?” I teased, knowing she was feeling the slow creep of death coming for her. She only had a few weeks left to live and I was trying to stay positive for her. I didn’t want my last memories to be ones where we sat crying and reminiscing about things we couldn’t change. I’d taken her out of the hospital and we’d decided on hospice at home. Although our perceived privacy was only that. Even laying on the blanket out here on the beach near our home, we weren’t out of her nurse’s hawk-like stare. If I’d been twenty years younger I could have picked up my love and carefully set her on the sand, instead I had to rely on Cathy, our home aide to help make what might be her last beach sunset, a reality.
Her voice was fragile, words said on the whisp of a breath, “I don’t know-- Maybe both?” The turquoise sky reflected in the tear streaking down her face. “I’ve had a good life, Johan…” She paused to succumb to a coughing fit, but continued once she was able to rest and take a sip of the water Cathy had hurried over to provide. “No-- We’ve had a good life.” The pointed gaze she threw my way was one I knew so well.
I tried not to show her the constant ache my heart felt knowing its other half would soon be gone from this life, yet I couldn’t hide my emotions from her when she spoke such truth. “I know, May--”
She held up her bony hand to pause my comment. “But you’ll be fine without me. You’re strong and will carry on to see Janey graduate from college and to see Mary-anne get married.”
“For the third time,” I grumbled, despite of myself.
Resting her hand on my chest, I could feel the chill of them through my thin shirt. She smiled indulgently up at me, no doubt humoring my disgruntled remark. “Yes, for the third time, and you know what? It’ll all be okay. Life will continue to go on and I want you to promise me you won’t give up on your own when I’m gone?”
It had been so long since I’d lived without her. We’d gotten married after that first year of working together and had only slept apart a handful of times when I’d had to travel for work or when she went up to help out when Janey and Michael were born. Even though the despair I knew was coming, I smiled gently down at my beloved, affirming her statement. “Promise.”
She passed on a rainy Florida afternoon, holding my hand and resting her cheek on my chest. I won’t be whole again, but for my children and grandchildren, I’m all they had left now. It was this truth that would need to be enough to pull me out of bed every morning. Knowing I didn’t have to get up to make May coffee or put my socks in the hamper or… The thought of everything else I was no longer required to do shocked me, leaving me standing in the hallway clutching my socks like a long lost love. I rested my weary body against the wall, my head banging a soothing beat against it as I gathered my emotions. Allowing the tears to fall, I released everything I’d held in for the last month like a tidal wave of emotions crashing through my body.
I whispered this over and over until I had the strength to pull myself off the wall. Walking into the bedroom, I slamdunked my dirty socks into the hamper and glanced up at the ceiling.
Like what you just read? Have a question or concern? Leave a note for the author! We appreciate your feedback!
Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com