“Fates uncontrollable working”
Her eyes rolled back as she hit the floor. Michael leaped up and ran to Annie. He pulled her head off the floor and rested it on his lap. He began to raise his voice, shouting “Annie! Annie! What’s wrong!! For the love of God answer me!!” He pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed 911. Leaning forward Michael placed his head on hers and closed his eyes. As, he spoke the dispatcher answered his call.
“Please, Annie. Please wake up. You’re scaring me.”
“911. What’s your emergency?”
Michael began to sputter, and spoke too fast. ” Hi.. um.. I need an ambulance. My girlfriend collapsed. And she’s not moving, I don’t-I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“Clam down sir. Relax. Tell me again what happened.”
“That’s just it. I don’t know what happened. She walked through the door, her eyes rolled back and then she hit the floor.”
“Okay, I’m sending someone to your location now. Your close, someone should be there in less than five minutes. Have you checked her pulse? Did you notice if she hit her head as she fell?”
“I’m not sure, I don’t think she hit her head on anything. Maybe, I-I don’t know. Ummm let me check her pulse now.” He placed two fingers on her inner wrist. He closed his eyes and listened for her pulse. “I’m not sure if I did it correctly, but it feels really slow.”
“Okay, you’re doing great sir. Everything is going to be okay. The ambulance should be there in any minute now.”
“I-I-I hear them.” He drops his phone to the floor ending the call with the dispatcher and gently rests Annie’s head on the floor. He then jumps up and runs out the door. He sees the van and begins to flag them down. The paramedics jumped out of the van and approaches Michael.
“She’s inside. I don’t know what’s wrong. She just collapsed, and now-now she’s not moving.”
“Okay, relax. We’re going to get her into the van and assess her vitals. You can meet us at the hospital.”
Everyone rushed to the hospital. As soon as Michael walked into the main entrance, he was immediately directed into the waiting room. GOD DAMIT! GOD DAMIT! I should be with her. Not sitting out here like animal. He walked over to an empty chair, running his fingers franticly through his hair. Relax, everything is going to be okay. He thought to himself. Has to be. She must be dehydrated or did not eat enough today. She is going to be okay Michael. Any minute now a doctor is going to walk out and tell me everything is alright.
He sat waiting and waiting, for what felt like an eternity passing by. Looking at his watch, he noticed only two hours had passed. He was beginning to lose his patience with the hospital. He always hated hospitals and people. Ugh. He thought to himself. Every direction he looked there was people, sick people. There was always a distinct smell to a hospital that made him sick to his stomach. Another two hours had passed. Finally, a doctor was beginning to approach him. It’s about time. Michael immediately jumped up and met the doctor.
“Yeah-yeah. How is she? Is she okay?”
The doctor stared at Michael. With pain in his eyes, he replied “Come talk to me over here.”
“Okay.” Perplexed, Michael followed the doctor.
“This is not going to be easy to hear.” Michael swallowed hard and nodded his head that he was listening. “We ran her blood work, and did some other tests. We concluded that Annie has stage four brain cancer.” Michael took a step back and shook his head.
“What!? How could this happen, there’s no way?! She seemed perfectly healthy.”
“Well sometimes the early stages of brain cancer can be easily mistaken for a headache. Even tragically other system can go unnoticed, or-or not even show.” The doctor placed his hand on Michael’s shoulder and continued to explain what could have happened. However, Michael could no longer hear the doctor. He completely physically and mentally spaced out, nor could he comprehend what was happening. It was as if the world just stopped and froze. Suddenly Michael broke out of his haze stepped away from the doctor and left the hospital.
A week had passed, and he found himself back in the hospital. He walked down the halls searching for room 15. The walls were white- too white, and in every direction, there were more people. Ugh, I really hate this place he thought to himself. And this situation did not make it any easier, to walk the halls of what felt like an asylum. He was going to lose his mind here. He should not be here, she shouldn’t be. He now stood in front of a closed-door marked 15. Clenching his fists until his knuckles turned snow-white, and the tips of his nails dug into his flesh. He inhaled deeply, grabbed hold of the doorknob, and opened the door.
There she lay on a small white bed pale as a ghost. Her beautiful blue eyes sunken and surrounded by black. It sickened him to see her hooked up to those machines in this white-white room. The tiles were white, her sheets were white. Even the curtains by the window were white. The only things about this room that were not smothered by this color was the tv and clock hung on the wall. As well as the dresser beside her bed.
His Annie. She looked so tired, and as she saw him walk through the door, she smiled. It was that smile that always made him weak to his knees. This hit his heart with a sharp pain. He felt a burning inside, that he wished he could douse away. He didn’t even realize that he stopped walking. With another deep breath, he returned her smile. Annie looked over at her nurse and said, “Mary, would you give us a minute.” She nodded and took the tray of uneaten food out the door with her. Michael watched the nurse as she left and turned his body to the door. He found himself struggling to look at her lying on the bed. The muscles in his back tensed, and he could feel the holes being burned into his back where Annie’s eyes watched him.
“I’m glad you came.”
He was struggling to find the right thing to say, or even how to say it. The silence felt as if it went on for hours when only minutes passed by. The sound of the clock was hypnotic. He felt frozen, in a trance, struggling to stay focused. With his back turned, he silently counted the white tiles on the floor.
“Please, sit down, talk to me…..” Her voice started to break “Please… stay for a little while. Stay with me.”
With those three little words, his eyes began to water, but he couldn’t let her see him like that. He needed to be stronger, be what she could not be physically. He took one large breath and a larger step for her.
She watched his back rise; she knew this was immensely difficult. Then, he surprised her and turned around and made the most difficult stride he ever had to. She could see the strain in his eyes and feel the strain in his heart. She wished there was some way she could take his pain away. She followed him with her eyes, watching him make his way to the bed. He stood at the end of the bed, over her looking directly at her feet. He could not meet her eyes because somehow that would make everything real. He wanted so badly to wake up, so badly to end his nightmare, so badly to wake beside her every morning for the rest of his days. He pinched the side of his arm, half convinced he was asleep and this was not happening. It could not be happening.
The silence was maddening. She spoke first, “I really wish you would look at me.”
He had a sudden burst of anger. “Just stop! Okay! I’m here aren’t I!” He did look at her then, directly in the eyes. He could tell that she’s hurting too, he wasn’t sure how else to react. As, he spoke again he dropped his head. Finding it even more difficult to meet her gaze.
” Look I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I just……” He let his breath go, he didn’t realize he forgot to breathe. He picked up his head and looked right at her as he spoke. Struggling, he was doing everything in his power to hold it together. Knowing how hard these next few words where he had to say them. He had to stop holding back. “I just” his voice was beginning to crack, he was speaking as if he could not breathe. He cleared his throat and continued.
” I don’t know how to act, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. To see, you like this, to know there is nothing I can do to keep you here. Without you, I’m just a man with an anger problem. But, to you I was someone. I am someone. I can’t do this without you. How am I supposed to live knowing you’re not beside me? How am I supposed to live on without you? Without your smile or the goofy way you walk. The way you can always make me laugh. Or when you touch my hand letting me know everything is going to be okay. I…” A tear fell from his eye, and he dropped his head again. It was too hard. And he so desperately didn’t want her to see him like this. “You’re my home, Annie.”
It was time she surprised him. She slowly lifted herself out of bed; he wanted to stop her because he knew she was in pain. However, he found himself wanting to see what happens next. She made her way over to him and took his hands in hers and held them to her chest.
“I’m so sorry Annie. I’m so so sorry it took me this long to come to you. It’s-it’s hard for me to see you like this. We should have known, something wasn’t right. I wish I could take all your pain for you. I wish I could take your place. You-you cannot leave me. What………what am I supposed to do without you.”
She looked up at him, took a large breath. She smiled and spoke with tears in her eyes.
“It’s going to be all right…. I know this is not easy, and I know it is a cliché to say I will always be with you, but it’s true. You do not know how hard it is for me to leave you behind and how badly I wish I could change the circumstances.”
He could no longer hold it together; he was slowly crumbling in her arms. She pushed him forward with the little strength she had left so they were eye to eye. “I need you to forget where we are for one moment. And forget what brought me here.” At that, she smiled again and grabbed ahold of his hands. “There was a reason I wanted you here today. Other than the obvious I always want you here. But, I have a surprise for you.” She walked back over to the bed, buzzed the button for her nurse. She opened the drawer beside the bed and pulled out two small boxes. Inside held two sterling silver wedding bands. She walked back toward him as a knock approached the door. Letting them know her nurse was here.
“Ahh, Mary there you are.” She leaned into her nurse and whispered something in her ear. Mary smiled at the couple and out the door she went.
“I know this is not our dream wedding, but I thought before I go to sleep….. we could exchange vows”
He was in in a mixture of emotions. Shock, heartbreak, sadness, and extreme excitement all at the same time.
“These were my parents’ rings, and I know they would be happy if we used them today. I called Mary because I had this arrangement set up. I knew my days were and are numbered so I called a Pastor to come in today. I was not sure you would come today, but I am so glad you did.” She looked up at him with bright excitement. It was hard for him to say no to that smile. It was the one he fell in love with, and the one that made the world disappear. It will always be the one he cannot forget.
“Of course, I will exchange vows with you. I would do anything for you love.” The door opened again, in came both the Pastor and Mary with a bouquet of flowers. The couple was both exchanging a bright and excited smile. Trying so hard to forget where they were and relish in the love in each other’s eyes.
“Thank you, Mary. You truly are amazing. Hello Pastor Dave nice to see you, this is Michael. My fiancé.” She could not help but smile as the word fiancé rolled off her tongue. She never thought this day would come, or that he could bare to see her at all.
“Nice to meet you, Michael. Now I understand the circumstances here, Miss Annie needs to be getting her rest. So, we shall make this a short and beautiful ceremony.” He gently clapped his hands together and spoke, “Now let’s not make this a sad affair, we are here to celebrate love. It is clear how deep this love runs, and how much you two care for one another. I am honored to share this experience with you.”
Michael takes Annie’s hands in his. The couple stood in front of one another, with the Pastor before them and nurse Mary beside the bride. Mary takes ahold of the flowers for Annie, she pulls out her phone and begins to play soft violin music for the ceremony. The Pastor begins to say the verses. Annie and Michael then sharing their vows. They then each place rings on each other finger. Everybody begins to laugh and cry along with the couple. There was a yearning and a deep love in both of their eyes as they concluded the ceremony. She then looks up into his eyes and began to say, “I want you forever, I will love you forever and remember you forever. You are and will forever be the man of my dreams. You are the strongest person I know and have the biggest and kindest heart. Please just remember even if I am not there I will love you forever and always.”
Pastor Dave says his final lines “I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may now kiss the bride.” Michael pulls Annie towards him and they kiss each other. They kissed each other with such love that took over everything they are going through.
The Pastor gives the newlyweds a hug and exits the room. Mary and Michael begin to move Annie back into bed. “Wait. Stop please. I know I need to rest, but I am a married woman now and I would love nothing more if Michael would dance with me.” She looked directly at Michael and could not help to have a pleading look in her eyes.
“But Annie–” Mary spoke.
“No buts, I can handle it. Mary, you wouldn’t mind if I borrowed your phone for one more song, would you?”
“No, no Annie. Are you sure about this?”
Michael answers for Annie this time, “She will be okay. I will make sure she’s alright.” He looked directly into Annie’s eyes and held her hand tight. “As long as I am standing next to you, you will always-always be safe with me. And as long as you’re still living I will protect you with every bone and muscle I have in me. Mary, would you play “the way you look tonight?”
Mary did not even answer she just nodded and typed away. Once the song began, Mary silently took her exit. Annie gently steps on Michael’s feet and laces her hands behind his neck. Michael slides his arms around her waist and gently pulls her close. She looks directly into his eyes and says, “I love you.” Michael was beginning to choke, “Shh, don’t speak. Just dance with me.” They silently dance so passionately while the words in the background played, “There is nothing for me but to love you, and the way you look tonight.”
When the song finished the couple held tightly onto one another. Annie was beginning to rely heavily on Michael to hold her steady. He slowly swayed her over to the bed and laid her down. He buzzed for the nurse. Annie began to cry. Seconds later before Michael had a chance to respond to Annie nurse Mary entered the room. Without hesitation he hands over the phone back to Mary. “Thank you, Mary, for everything.” He clasped her hand in a thankful manner as returned the phone. She nods with a smile and exits.
He turns and makes his way back to Annie. Staring down at his feet Michael was about to say something than she spoke instead.
“Michael, will you sleep with me tonight.? Stay with me?”
“I will stay with you forever. That is something you do not have to ask. My heart is yours, and it can never be without yours.” She pulled the sheets down and gestured for him to come over to her. He walked over to the bed and climbed in beside her. She laid her head on his chest and looked up at him. He met her gaze and moved his mouth over onto hers. Then the two shared a longing passionate kiss. Michael hungry for her, hesitated. He could not allow himself to push her boundaries. Annie moved her hand, laid it upon his chin and gently pushed his face toward hers. They stared intently at one another as she spoke, “It’s okay.” As he began to speak, she placed a finger onto his lips silencing him. There was desire behind her eyes; she moved her body closer to his and kissed him. She kissed him with so much passion he could no longer control himself. He could no longer stop the hunger he had for her, and he slept with her for the first time as a married couple.
“This moment shall always be my happiest. I never want to leave this moment with you.” He kissed the top of her head and held her tight. He closed his eyes and fell asleep beside her.
When the morning arose, Mary was standing above the bed. “Good Morning Michael. I did not want to wake you, but I am afraid I have some bad news.” He looked beside him saw Annie and already knew. He looked up at the ceiling, closed his eyes, inhaled very deeply.
“She is gone. Michael, I know this is hard—”
“Please, stop I know.” His voice was cracking and breaking. He cleared his throat as tears were falling from his face. It was becoming too difficult for him to talk. “Mary,….. could you give us…….. a moment please.”
“Sure thing, come find me when you’re ready.” Mary walked out of Annie’s room for the last time.
Michael held her tight, kissed her forehead and inhaled her scent one last time. He reached for her hand and pulled off her wedding ring. He took his off too; he then unclasped his chain around his neck. He slid both rings through the chain and clasped it back around his neck. He tucked the chain away under his shirt and both rings hung just above his heart.
“There, you were right Annie. You will always be in my heart. I will live with you always. I am glad I got to hold you in my arms one more time, to hold you through the night. I am also glad I was able. No, that I can call myself your husband. Oh…. Annie, I’m not going to say goodbye. I know I am going to see you again.” He kissed her once more on the head. Took one more breath. “Sweet dreams my love.” He spoke and left room 15.