Her hand was as gentle as ever, slowly caressing his hair back and forth as he rested his head in her lap, closing his eyes tightly. It was his favourite gesture, and he could not believe that this might be the last time he’d be able to feel that. He could not even look at her, he was afraid that he would break.
“Thank you so much, for staying with me for the past two years.” He started to say, his voice quivering as he was nearly choked with his tears. “You know that I love you, don’t you?” he asked, reaching for her hand and clutched it tight. He felt her nodded above him.
Then he felt it, the wetness that was slowly flowing through him, as though it was seeping through from deep inside his soul. She made a promise to him a couple of years ago, that she’d stay with him, till he was able to let her go. He thought that, when they made that pact, he was able to recover after some time, or at least got better. But he was wrong. How could he ever get over her? She was his love, she was his life. And she was brutally taken away from him. He was just not prepared for the abruptness of her leaving him. Why must it happen so soon? When they’d just got together? When they were just beginning to build their life together and fulfil the promises they’d made to each other years ago?
Till death do us apart. Oh, how those words rang true! And oh, how it hurt!
“I am sorry that we could not spend more time together, my love. Did I make you happy? Was I a good husband? You know you were the best wife any man could ever ask for. I was blessed to have been with you.” It was painful saying that, because he knew, even before they were married, he never had time for her. He was always busy, rushing through to settle this and that, always believing that he’ll have his whole life in the future to spend time with her.
Even after their marriage, he always had to leave, for work, for outings with friends, for reunions, for social events that she could not attend. She never complained, other than the occasional silence when he asked her how her day was. In fact, that was very seldom too, him asking her how her day had been. He always thought he would have time, later, when in fact, after the accident that had taken her away from him; he’d lost his chance at all.
To the world, he was a crazy husband who was still hooked on his dead wife. Only he knows that, Libby had returned, even though he was the only one who could see her, to allow him to make up for his stupidity.
“God, I missed you, Libby. I missed you so much! I’m so sorry honey, for all those tears you cried silently, for all those time I left you all alone.” He recalled her birthday celebration whereby he had foolishly volunteered to be elsewhere at the last minute to attend a course and had completely forgotten about her plans for the night. They’d promised to go out together, for once in a fancy restaurant that she’d always wanted to go, but hadn’t been able to due to their clashed schedule.
He remembered how her face fell when he had to cancel their first wedding anniversary celebration because he had ‘made plans’ with Remy to attend a reunion with their pals from other countries and had, forgotten to promise to be back early.
“I’m sorry, for not being with you when you died.....” and this time, he could not hold his tears as he remembered having to go for another elective course in a different state, and when the call from his mother to inform him that Libby’s condition was getting worse was missed. He didn’t even call his mother back to enquire about the missed call. And when he got back on the weekend, he was devastated beyond belief. But he could not turn back the time.
After the talk with Doctor John, it was like a wakeup call for him. He rushed back home and searched through his files where he found his wife’s death certificate. It all came crashing down on him then, and he called everyone who knew her, like a madman, trying to confirm the news. Apparently, they’d let him live in his imagination long enough, thinking that he’d be fine after a while.
Gosh, how stupid he must’ve looked to them!
And yet, as he felt Libby’s hand stroking his hair rhythmically, he felt at ease. He finally found the courage to open his eyes and looked up into her face. She was crying, too despite looking so serene. He mouthed ‘I love you’ to her and she smiled.
Tenderly, she kissed his forehead, and whispered, “I forgive you... Now it’s time for you to live...”
The sound of the door slammed by the strong wind woke him up with a start. He looked around him, trying to remember where he was. His heart was beating as though in a frenzy.
Then he realised something. Libby was dead. He took their framed photograph at the bedside table and stared and stared.
Finally, he took a deep breath kissed the picture, as though saying goodbye for the last time, and put the picture back where it belonged.