“I am so, so pretty. People stop me on the street to stare at me and smile; the feeling inside me is one of great joy and wonder. I’ve never felt like this, I think to myself, in my dream but it feels delicious and I am incredibly happy, the happiest I have ever been. I am light on my feet, I dance in time, swirling around in my pink and black lace dress. I can wear high heels that don’t hurt that match my dress impeccably. I am loved, I throw my head back with its brown tendrils perfectly curled and laugh.
I met James when I was fifteen and he was sixteen. Once we met we were inseparable; we went on picnics all the time. He knew how much I lived going on picnics, our hands getting sticky from the sandwiches, thickly sliced multi-grain bread, sharp cheddar cheese, smoked ham, stone ground mustard, small, sweet pickles and those salty potato chips that we bought at the store. Dear, sweet, handsome James. James, the grown-up man with the sly, boyish grin whom I met by chance, two years before. His car was stuck and I was with my new puppy and he seized upon my puppy like a child seeing Santa Claus. Apparently, his own dog, also a German Shepard mix had recently been euthanized, and I think his pure love and excitement to see my puppy made him light up from the inside out. He picked up my dog and held her in his arms, laughing and the dog loved every second of the attention. I liked watching them together. More than that, I liked James, putting his arm around my shoulders, his fingers combing my hair, sniffing my hair and murmuring how good it smelt, like flowers and the ocean and sunshine. We were meant for each other, James and I, it was a love that was so good and pure, based on friendship and romance and companionship.
We would grow old together, we promised one another but before that we were busy! We had three children together, two boys, Tom and Eric and then we had our baby girl, Nicole. Oh, my, we all made a fuss over the baby girl. In fact, she was called “baby girl” for most of her life. She was just the sweetest thing and oh, how she could just get everything she wanted out of her daddy, why he would just fall to mush if she asked him anything, why anything at all.
We had a good life together, he and I. We were destined to be together until the last breath he took. I can see clearly now that not everyone has this type of love in their lives. I know we were meant for each other the first time I saw him. He used to kid me about that saying I was such a “romantic” and he would shake his head and laugh but I knew he thought the very same thing.
Now, I sit, alone, in the hospital. I lie in the white bed with the nurses who come clucking to take blood and do tests and all I hear are the clang clang of bells and the pager screaming names of doctors. Lord, the last place to go to get some healing is some damn hospital, that’s for sure. I try to think of the good old days but when I try to talk about it, people just look at me like all sorts of crazy. “There was no James” they say. “You were never married” they say firmly. “You have no children, does anyone visit you, they ask?”Why do they say these horrible, mean things to me? I don’t know why, but I always shake my head and scream when they do. Last time I did that they put some stuff in my mouth and held my arms and I slept for a long time. I didn’t feel like me when I woke up, I was all confused for a real long time.
I don’t understand why they say these things. I just know that I was happy once. Once, long ago. Maybe in another world, maybe in my imagination, like they say. It just sure beats living my last days here, in a small, dark room with no light. I have no spirit left inside me; I lie very still hoping that death will take me quietly because I’m scared of pain, very frightened indeed. Just let me go, Lord, just let me go. I want to be with James, we will be together again. I know, what I know and no darn fool can tell me otherwise. Please, Lord, just take me now.”