I couldn't believe it.
I couldn't believe it, when I picked up the call from the hospital telling me what happened to you. I assumed they called me because you had put my name as your emergency contact number. But I never knew I'd find out this way.
I barely blinked on my way over, gripping the steering wheel so hard it might have snapped into two. I wasn't in a rush, I tried so hard to keep my calm. But I was far from calm. How do I believe this? It was a normal sunny day in March, the flowers were everywhere, your favourite kind was in the back seat of my car. I tried to swallow. Nothing. I felt nothing.
All those times you had told me, what I should do in case something like this happened. But I always thought you were being silly. I remember telling myself, "She's just being silly." You wanted flowers, bright yellow flowers to be there in my hand when you took your last breath. But I couldn't be there when you breathed your last, I told you to wait until I came back. Why didn't you?
I fought back tears welling up in my eyes when I finally saw you. You were lifeless. You were so pale, I wanted to hug life into you. But I knew that was a lost cause. So I just sat there on the wooden stool as the doctor pulled down the white blanket over your cold body. Was your body cold? I was afraid to find out. I was afraid to find out if the woman who had been screaming at the top of her lungs when I didn't want to take my medication, who fought me over what colour the walls of our house should be, who tackled, pounced and lunged at me whenever I came around. I was afraid to find out that the woman who had the brightest smile, who made my heart skip several beats just by walking towards me, was cold. No, I didn't want to believe. I almost turned around to the other doctor, asking if this was my best friend. I didn't want to believe it. This wasn't her, this wasn't her, this wasn't her... Your flowers were there, if you are watching me from above, I kept my promise.
But I could never prepare myself for the day of your burial.
Everyone was there, EVERYONE was there. Even people you thought would never come. But they were there to pay their last respects. I tried to breathe. Nothing, again. Your mother was there, putting her hand on my shoulder, trying to reassure me the best of her ability. How could she be so calm? Why was I so lost? How do I pretend I'm okay, when the day you passed away, was the day we were supposed to sign off on our house? We were supposed to finally live together. I signed off on it, anyway, just so you know. You know, don't you? But I was restless in my black dress, the dress you picked out yourself. You always joked how when you were gone, I was supposed to look pretty. I scoffed on the idea. But here I am, in the same dress you bought me all those months ago. I didn't hear a thing that was said, I didn't respond when the priest asked me if I wanted to say some words. Your mother tried shaking me, and she shook her head.
I tried to remember the last time we were together. I was packing in my apartment for my trip away for three days across the country. You wanted to follow, you were begging me to stay with you, but I had told you that you couldn't. I wouldn't have had time to pay attention to you if you had followed. But you insisted anyway, you said you didn't want to be alone. But I had to go, you know that, don't you? You couldn't let go of my hand on the way over to the airport, up until I had to finally go. I hated leaving you by yourself, but I knew you could take care of yourself. You forced me to look at you but I had kept my head down. I was fighting back tears back then, but I think you knew that. So you kissed my forehead, gripped my hand for what seemed like the millionth time, and told me to have a good time, to take my medication, to not skip meals, to sleep well and all those other things. The same thing you would tell me every time I had to go on a trip far away from you. But I didn't understand why you had been so... I don't even know what the right word is. Looking back, I should've stayed. You lifted my chin up the same way you would so that you could look at me. You had a smile of your face, but it was so very sad. My heart shattered at the sight of it. Instead, I just hugged you tightly, pecked your cheek and flashed the best grin I could muster up. If only I had known that was the last time you were standing in front of me. I could have told you that I loved you. Did I ever tell you I love you? I can't seem to remember.
I still remember the day we met. I remember the exact time, the exact day, the exact date. I remember what you wore perfectly. It was 6:05pm on a Tuesday, 28th October 2007, you were wearing a purple dress and I caught a glimpse of you from across the street. I remember how my jaw dropped at the sight of you. You didn't know it then, but it was the exact moment I gave away my heart to a complete stranger. Some man ran towards you, making you fall. I didn't know if I was holding anything, but I ran, ran as fast as I could towards you as cars honked at me, and extended my hand to help you up. But you had insisted that you could get up on your own. I couldn't help but chuckle. You never wanted help, you didn't want any even though you were on the ground. I helped you up anyway and you scoffed at my effort. I was slightly hurt that I had literally sacrificed my life for you and you simply scoffed. I offered to walk you home and once again, you had insisted that you couldn't make it back on your own. But I rolled my eyes because you were limping, that's why you had fallen down. You didn't want to hold onto me so I thought maybe I could drive you home. I could tell that you were a little distrustful over a woman that was being so nice to you, but I just flashed my best grin. Somehow that made you smile. I never felt so accomplished in my life.
After they buried you, I just stared at the ground. Once again, your mother had tried to reassure me. She lost her daughter, but I lost my whole life. But she must have felt so kind of pain, right? I looked at her, you had her brown hair, her hazel eyes and I tried to swallow again. Nothing. She just smiled warmly at me, but I couldn't break down and cry at your grave. I had promised you I wouldn't. So I fought back the tears with all my strength as your mother pulled me away. She sat me down at your family's house, I still remember the feeling of the couch you constantly tried to tickle me on. It brought a sad smile to my face. Your mother pulled out a piece of orange paper and walked away.
I knew what it was, because my hands were shaking when I opened it. It read,
If you are reading this, I most probably would have been gone. You kept your promise right? The flowers, the dress, the no crying part. Yadi yada." I scoffed. I can't believe you actually wrote that.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't wait. It's not like I could tell the angels to wait for you to return so that you could be there for me. I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry it took me so long to open up to you, when you had been so open with from day one. You don't know this, but I fell in love with you at first sight. Crazy, isn't it? The girl who doesn't believe in love fell in love with a complete stranger. You even drove me home. I was 19, wild and somehow you locked me down. You don't know this, too, but your grin was everything to me. It gave me hope, that tomorrow was going to be a better day. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I was already sick the day we met. But my condition didn't get worse until much later. You made me want to live, that's why I had been holding on for so long." You fool. Why didn't you tell me?
"Babe, I love you. I kept telling you, but you never want to believe me. So I hope when I'm gone, you'd believe me. I really, truly loved you. I will always love you." I felt a single tear down my cheek.
"I'm sorry." Stop apologizing. "All those times you tried to be there for me, and I just... I just pushed you away. But it never stopped you from being there for me. The day you stood in front my house on your 20th birthday, and it was raining but I didn't want to see you because we had a terrible fight. You stood there until morning. It was your BIRTHDAY and I acted like such a bitch. You are several years younger than me, you were 17 when we met, but you had always been much more mature than me. You patiently waited for me every time I got into a relationship and had left you out in the cold. I couldn't understand it, why didn't you just walk away? I know now, you loved me, didn't you? You love me, don't you, babe? You didn't have to tell me, I could tell by the way you looked me, tilted your head, how you curled your lips when I screamed at you. I yelled at you many times, didn't I? I'm sorry. But I was only doing it for your own good. At least that's what I told myself." I exhaled deeply, leaning back to the couch before I continued reading your words, before I hear your voice inside my head as my eyes studied your neat handwriting. You had always been messy, but your writing was always put together.
"Babe, you stayed through everything, you were there for me even though you yourself didn't know it. The last man I was with broke me into a million pieces and you were patient, holding onto me as I cried into you. You were so tiny, but you felt so strong with me. I still remember how your face lit up when I told you that I wanted to live with you. You weren't like me, which was a relief. You didn't jump into relationship after relationship to feel something. You didn't sleep with everyone, you were always so pure and innocent. But I didn't find out why until much later. You weren't simply saving yourself, you were cautious over who you loved. And you only loved me." You knew. Of course you knew.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't be the woman you thought I was. At 28, I was still trying to figure out the person I was but you had figured everything out even at such a young age. I envied you, you know? I was jealous over everything you did, and everyone you had met. I was scared that when you found the right girl, you would leave me the way I did. But you didn't. And I watched as she made you happy the way I could've. But I was too scared. God, if only I wasn't such a coward. But you left me with your heart, you wanted to hold onto it until you were sure you could give it away to someone else. But you never asked for it back. So I guess I'm giving it to you now. Be careful with it, and take care of my heart, too. I know it's a big responsibility, but you can do it, I know it." Your mother came back around finally, her eyes were red, probably from crying as she handed me a box.
"In the box, is everything I saved from the times we spent together. Yes, baby, even the ring you gave me on my 24th birthday. I could never wear it because I was so afraid of losing it. You can probably check out the contents yourself. I guess, what I'm trying to say is, that I'm not saying my farewell. I'll be there with you, in spirit, in heart, in everything that you do. I have always been. But for now... Take care of yourself. Eat well. Sleep well. Stop overexerting yourself and don't forget to take your pills.
I love you,
I finally felt air enter my lungs again. I felt relief wash over me, it felt like a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders. I went back home to my apartment, into the arms of my lover. I'll paint the walls of our house the colours you wanted. I'll decorate everything the way you wanted. But I'm going to live there with my woman if you don't mind. I'll raise the kids you wanted. I'll do the things you wanted me to do. Most of all, I'll start loving myself the way you had loved me.
Thank you. Thank you for everything. And goodnight for now.