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Her hand held fast in his as he did his best to smile down at her amidst the tidal crashing of emotions that washed over him; each wave a new dreading emotion that left him weakened with each tumble he took towards the shore of sanity. Inside he was struggling to make for his emotional surface that eluded him. He was straining to adjust himself to head for the ability to maintain control of himself and his emotions, and just when his lips would meet the emotional waters surface, another tidal wave of emotion plunged him back down into the darkness of his mind.

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“That cheap suit you wore.” Her voice softly whispered to him. “You were so nervous. I could tell.” Sighing, he gave her hand a light squeeze and did his best force a smile through the fog of emotions clouding his ability to think in the moment. “Everyone wanted you. There wasn’t a boy in the high school that didn’t talk about having you.” His blue eyes looked down and away from her, a feeling of shy nostalgia creeping into his mind. “Well, you weren’t every boy. The way you always…” She drew in a deep breath and smiled up at him. “You’d always talked to me and asked me about myself. You were different.” He nodded and brought his eyes back over to hers. “Your life was far more interesting than mine. You were my escape from my own family tragedy.” She gave his hand a light squeeze. “And yet, you turned out just fine, sweetheart.”

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“Isabelle has turned out to be such a good girl.” She said. “Do you remember when we brought her home?” He did his best to nod and smile at her. “I think we thought everything was going to possibly kil her.” A brief pause in his sentence gave way to a half cracked smile as he continued. “Every pantry had a dead bolt on it and you made sure there wasn’t a single chemical in arms reach. Hell, you even added extra dead bolts to the doors because of someone possibly robbing us.” She gave a soft chuckle and then winced a little. “Perhaps we overreacted just a little bit.” He sighed and nodded. “Perhaps just a little.” “But now, look at her. Graduating college and on her way. We did good.” She gave his hand a harder squeeze as he stepped back, releasing her grip to grab a chair and pull it closer to her bed and then sat, taking her hand in his once more.”

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“I wanted to say that I’m sorry for not always having been the best husband to you.” His eyes teared up slightly as he did his best to keep going as another wave hit him and threatened to bring him back under. “You….you were so good to me.” He whispered out, clutching her hand and tenderly kissing the top of it. “You were human. We both are. It wasn’t easy to forgive you, and sometimes you made it damn near impossible, but I love you. Real love is just that, fighting for the life that exists between to people that they built together.” At this point his forehead rested atop the bed sheet as tears began streaming down his cheeks at the continuous thoughts that paraded like a carousel of images in his mind. The scenes of being in the arms of another woman as he though back to his wife at home with their child. The moment when he told her and she fell to her knees in the kitchen, plates shattering into thousands of littles pieces upon the tile floor that they’d picked out together once they’d been married. It was the one moment in his life he never forgave himself for, but what made it worse is that once she forgave him, she’d never spoken of it again. He knew it had hurt her deeply, but the fact that she’d always kept it buried and internalized it without speaking on it only made him hurt that much worse for knowing the internal pain he’d caused her for years.

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She looked down her frail body at him and smiled in her eyes as she placed a hand on the back of his head and slowly stroked his hair in her usual motherly fashion. His shoulders trembled and she could feel his tears streaming down his cheeks. “I can see our first house.” She whispered out as her eyes slowly closed. “The bedroom door that would get wedged closed all the time.” His quiet sobbing had become mixed with soft laughter as his head raised slightly to turn and lay atop the bed, peering at her from his red eyes. “You took a second job just to be able to afford moving us in there.” She cooed softly to him as she continued to lightly pet his head. “I was so proud of you. You looked like the king of the world the day we started moving in. You’d accomplished something so great.” He sniffed and looked up at the ceiling while his lips pressed together tightly at the thoughts she’d caused to resurface in his mind. “I’d wanted to create a better life for you and Bella. It was my job to take care of you two.” She drew in a long breath and slowly released it, sighing through her nose. “And you did just that, sweety.”

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His eyes clamped shut after he looked to the old clock hanging above the doorway to her room. The second hand served as the indicator to the biggest heartbreak he’d ever feel. He inwardly cursed that second hand; t served as the bringer of the ending of the greatest chapter in his life. The soft clicks of the seconds being counted down caused him to inwardly flinch. “Mr Robertson, it’s time.” He slowly nodded and squeezed his wife’s hand one last time. Her eyes were closed as she had drifted off to sleep. No goodbye from her, or parting words of love. It stung even more knowing he couldn’t tell her how much he’d loved her and how she’d saved him. The white coated man standing at the side of the room pressed a button, and then all was quiet. The sounds of soft breathing turned labored, and then as if all at once, there was complete silence.

When they’d found cancer it had been too late. She was terminal with only weeks left. The beeping from the EKG had ceased, and then she was gone.

John Burk

John Burk

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