He asked me, several times, that if the pain were to get too bad to do what I could to secure enough morphine so he might die quickly instead of lingering on in life just so he could suffer more. A small smile tugged at her lips as she recalled the fierceness of his words to her and she had agreed, thinking it would never be necessary. That he would change his mind. He hadn’t and it became all too necessary very quickly.
“Susan, you don’t have to continue.”
Pulled out of reverie she said, “Do you mind so much if I do?”
“Not at all.”
Her hands shook beneath the warmth of the stranger’s and she clutched his hand harder for a moment before placing it on his own leg with a reassuring pat. Absently she brushed her skirt and spoke of those last days. You see, shortly after that photo was taken, she said gesturing, he was relegated to palliative care. Neither of us wished for him to die amidst the sterility of a hospital and so we had all the equipment necessary brought into our home. I remember the days when I would just walk by the hospital bed, sitting ominously in the guest room knowing the time for its occupation would come soon. I would spend those days forcing myself to be cheerful, to smile- at least in front of my husband. When he would take one of a couple naps during the day I would head to the basement to do laundry so the machines could drown out my tears. For all my efforts he always knew.
Shortly after he was forced to reside in that bed he told me how he hoped for a day when I wouldn’t be relegated to mourning, that I could be happy again. For all his pain, his anger at encroaching death, he reached out to me with kindness and support. When his pain reached ceaselessly through all hours of the day, waking or sleeping, it was that kindness that propelled me to do exactly as he had asked. God, I don’t know why it is I feel like telling you all this. I’ve never told anyone before.
She grabbed the tissues before her, swiped at her eyes, and forced herself to recall those last hours; pulling money from their small safe, the desperate search for a payphone, the phone call she made to a man whose name she had never cared to know. The children had been there to say goodbye, waiting in the other room for me to return to them, Susan murmured, and I was in the other room murdering their father. He had looked at me as though an angel of mercy as I crushed and dissolved the pills in a small glass. He pressed the button one last time for the medication. The kiss had been sweet, tender and the last we would both share.
“He slipped away from me after that,” she said, “and all I could think was how much I wished he was still with me. I still do.”
Be sure to check back on Tuesday for the continued story!
If you’re just joining the story please check out the very first episode of the serial here.