A Short Story
Lucas walked in the door with a smile on his face carrying a large bouquet of white and pink lilies, the fragrance of the blooms tickling his nose. They were Sabrina’s favorites. “Good morning sweetheart. I decided to surprise you and drop in early. Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady.”
He gently placed a kiss on his wife’s cheek and pulled back, taking in her delicate features. Light hair the color of caramel apples framed her face, her button nose turned up ever so slightly at the tip, thin translucent lips that she always said she would trade for his plump rosy pink ones. But he would never change a thing about her. She was his beautiful girl for life.
“How was your morning? Have you been busy? I’m sure Naomi and Leslie have been keeping you busy with all the details of their fascinating love lives.” He looked up at Leslie standing by his wife and winked. “Don’t listen to a word these girls say. Being single isn’t any fun. Married life is the way to go.”
Lucas picked up Sabrina’s limp hand and softly stroked it. “Being married to you is the best decision I ever made.” He lifted it to his lips and a tear fell from his face, rolling down her hand and tracing a path next to the IV line on her arm.
Leslie pulled a chair close to the bed for Lucas to sit, knowing he wouldn’t leave her side until the doctor arrived.
“Good evening Mr. Clarke. I know this is a very difficult day for you and you have my deepest condolences.”
“Thank you Dr. Santos.”
“I have some paperwork for you to sign. It’s all the forms we’ve already gone over regarding termination of life support, organ donation, all of the legal stuff. We just need you to sign. Then I’ll talk you through the process while we terminate her support.”
Lucas couldn’t believe it had come to this. He had thought about it hundreds of times over the last month and wondered where it had gone wrong. They had watched a movie. That fucking movie. The main character lay lifelessly in a coma and her family refused to let her go.
Sabrina said she would never want to live that way. And she wouldn’t want to put Lucas through that. She made a sick joke and they laughed and agreed they would each sign living wills. “Thirty days then we pull the plug” she said. How could he know that two years later a car would plow into them after skidding on the ice during a blizzard?
He blindly signed form after form with a stoic face and a shaky hand then gave the clipboard to the nurse.
Dr. Santos asked, “Are you sure you don’t want someone here with you?”
Lucas just shook his head. He was selfish. He didn’t want anyone else to share their last moment together.
“Then we’ll begin?” He tuned out the doctor’s voice and instead heard the sound of Sabrina’s voice on their wedding day, pledging her love to him forever. Today was their forever.
He held her hand with both of his and noticed how small it was. She never seemed so tiny before. Tears fell down his face as they turned off monitors, one by one, the room growing quieter with each one.
His mind was flooded with memories. He thought of their first date which lasted all night because they couldn’t stop thinking of things to say to each other. They were surprised when they saw the sun coming up over the eastern horizon. And the first time he said ‘I love you’. She had been sleeping next to him and he didn’t have the courage to tell her when she was awake.
Their first fight, a stupid argument, when he thought he lost her for good. She showed up crying on his doorstep the next day and she told him she forgave him for being so stupid. It made his stomach queasy how she could make him feel so whole, so wanted so alive.
He closed his eyes and he could almost smell the jasmine shampoo she used every day, taste the cinnamon and spice from the Chai tea she drank every morning. In his mind’s eye he saw her standing at the far side of the aisle on their wedding day. Her hair was swept up showing off her swan-like neck. She looked so radiant, so beautiful, so content. Their life was just starting and they planned a long and happy one together. Not this. Not like this.
His head fell onto the blankets covering her stomach. “Bree, I can’t do this. I can’t live without you.” Dr. Santos stopped, giving him time. “Bree, we had so many plans. I know this is what you wanted but I don’t. I don’t want to give you up. You’re my life. Without you I don’t know how to be me.” His body was wracked with sobs.
When he was finally still he turned his ear to her stomach. “Bree, our babies . . .” His hand rubbed her abdomen where there would never be a child. The room stilled while Lucas lived a lifetime of memories in a few seconds.
Lucas took a deep breath and raised his head. He lifted Sabrina’s hand to his lips and kissed it. “Okay.” He sighed softly. “I’m ready.” He nodded at the doctor, the ultimate act of love; standing at Sabrina’s side watching her die. They continued, removing tubes and wires until they got to the final breathing tube. Dr. Santos looked at Lucas.
He reached to the bedside table, took a white lily, placed it in Sabrina’s hand and covered it with his then nodded, tears streaming down his face. When the tube was removed Sabrina breathed out, in time with Lucas, for the last time. Lucas leaned down to kiss her forehead. “Goodbye sweetheart. I will love you forever.”