My husband is dying.
I’m sitting on his left, on the edge of the bed. It’s a large, four poster bed in a dark brown wood. The sheets are white, soft, fresh and clean. He’s a wearing a long-sleeved white nightgown with the blanket tucked up under his arms. His left hand is in my hands. I’m wearing a dark red dress, which is a bit thick for this time of year, but it’s one of his favorites. My small white dog is sitting quietly at my feet, as if he knows exactly what’s going on and that now isn’t the time to play.
I look around the room. The large, wall-length windows are open to the garden outside. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. The grass is so green so early in spring, and the sun is smiling warmly in a cloudless, blue sky. The walls are covered in a dark red and gold trimmed material all around the room. My husband is breathing slowly and shallowly, and I know that this afternoon is his last.
He looks at me and smiles, noticing that his hand is clasped in mine. We chat about our life together. It was a planned marriage, but we have been a good pair and great friends for the entirety of it, more than fifteen years. No children – the two I did bear died young. But we were always close friends. Never really lovers or in love, but we had a companionship that ran deep on mutual respect and honesty. He had been sick for a while now with something the doctors couldn’t quite seem to place, but it’s okay. He has taken care of me in life and now in death, and I shall not fear being alone.
I will miss him deeply. His friendship and companionship has meant much to me. He is very dear to me, even if we never considered the other a “soul mate”. We never did meet them in this life though, so it was fitting that we had each other.
We reminisced on our time together. We weren’t extremely wealthy, but we weren’t poor by any means. For upper middle class Bohemia, we did quite well for ourselves. Patrons of the arts and intellectual community, we were fond of holding salons with those we found interesting and clever. He will be extremely missed in our circles of contemporaries and friends.
He leans his heavy head back into the feather pillow and sighs out a smile of contentment – with life and how it has ended. His grip relaxes in mind and I know he is gone. I shed some tears and sit there, holding his hand for a while. The room starts to fade out of view and I bend down and pick up my dog and feed my heartbreak to the small, fluffy creature that accepts it without judgement.
Flash forward to the funeral.
It’s a rather large headstone, as tall as I am. There are flowers heaped upon it and it is surrounded by comrades, friends and family. I have my dog tucked quietly in my left arm, hugged in my folds of black satin. My right hand is linked into the arm of a dear friend. He is tall and rather thin – a scholar at the prestigious university of the city. He has been a part of our salons for a while and I have known him for longer. We’ve been friends since our youth.
My head is resting on his shoulder as we stand at the foot of my husband’s grave. People are slowly leaving, and it’s not long until we’re the last ones standing there. He says some words about my husband that make me smile and softly laugh. This momentarily lifts the melancholy of his departure. He lets me take a moment to say good-bye and dry my eyes before he leads me back to the waiting carriage.