If he could cross the heavens for her, she sure as hell could live for him.
“It was cold that night,” she recalled, almost fondly. “I could see my breath, and I remember thinking we would freeze to death. I even said as much to him, but he never thought so. And even if he did, he hid it from me. I wouldn’t have put it past him to have been putting on a brave face just for me. He always did think he had to protect me,” she laughed. “The entire time we were there, lost, alone, surrounded by trees, in the middle of nowhere, he never gave up hope. He told me over and over that someone would find us. I, of course, didn’t believe him,” she said, smiling as she once more immersed herself into her memory. “I complained and I cried. I’m pretty sure ten minutes into being lost, he was ready to lose me.”
This time she laughed as she thought of the annoyed expression he wore that night. “You know… I do believe he even threatened to feed me to a bear if I didn’t stop whining. He was always funny that way. He knew I needed something to distract me, and he knew just how to do it. I was terrified of bears, but I knew there weren’t any in the part of the woods we were in. They hadn’t had a sighting there in years. That was the reason we had chosen that particular area for our hike. Now, had I known the trails would have been so overgrown that we would end up lost and freezing for five hours, I would have stayed home. It was hell out there. I tripped and fell every few feet just trying to get around. Thankfully, I had him with me. Brett was just built for the woods. So, he definitely was handy when I needed help crossing the creek. What really got me, though, he never even seemed scared. It was almost like he just knew we were going to get out of there. Sometimes I swear….”
“Miss Brooks, I’m sorry to have to interrupt, but that’s all the time we have for today. We’ll have to pick up where we left off next week. My two O’clock is coming in soon and I need the room.” Dr. McCarthy smiled as he walked over to her seat and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “I really feel like we made some progress today, Mel. Don’t forget to stop by Judy’s desk on the way out to schedule your next apt.”
“ I will.” She sighed as she stood up, straightened her dress, and moved to the door throwing him a genuine smile. She waved as she eased her way out the door. “See you next week Dr. McCarthy.”
The session had been draining. Her memories of Brett were always hard to relive—even if they were fond ones. It had only been a year since his accident. And while many told her it was time to move on, she found that was something she just couldn’t do. His smell still lingered in their apartment, as if he was there. And on most days, she swore he really was. She’d heard him whisper her name a few times—but it was only after she’d thought she’d seen him that she’d decided to start seeing Dr. McCarthy. He of course, had told her she was simply having trouble moving on—that her grief was causing her to see things. He’d told her repeatedly that what she’d seen was merely an illusion, a hallucination brought on by her subconscious in an attempt to help ease her pain. However, she’d felt anything but better after she’d spotted him in her kitchen. It was as if he were calling to her, reaching out and begging her to hear him. But how could she? He was gone, and there was nothing she could to do bring him back. The accident that had claimed his life was as horrible as it was unexpected—leaving her with little to no answers and a heart full of tremendous pain.
On a good day, she would feel as if her chest supported the weight of the world. On the bad days, she struggled to breath. Consequently, her work had begun to suffer, maintaining a relationship with their friends was becoming a burden, and her appetite had virtually disappeared. Energy was hard to come by—sleep seemed to be almost impossible—and even moving felt like a chore. It was as if the moment he left the world, a part of her had gone too,. Perhaps even the best part of who she was. Everyday activities weren’t worth the effort it took to get them done; they were becoming mundane. Life without him just wasn’t worth living. So she did what anyone in her situation would do: she exited the cab she had taken to get home, walked the three flights of stairs to their apartment, and she prepared herself for what she knew she had to do.
Walking into their small one room apartment she made her way to the bathroom. And like a sign from the heavens, her medicine cabinet was already popped open. Its contents called to her like a light in the dark—a shining beacon for the lost—singing a siren song only she could hear. “Open me,” it whispered as she reached for the bottle of antidepressants Dr.McCarthy had prescribed her only a week before. “End It,” it echoed. “It’ll only hurt for a little while.”
Her demons wouldn’t allow her to put the bottle down if she’d tried. Hands shaking, tears streaming, heart pounding, she unscrewed the lip and emptied the bottle of pills onto the bathroom sink. She reached for the cup she kept beside the faucet and filled it with water. Knowing this would be her last moments in this world, she walked into the room they had shared for so long. The room that still held so much of him within the four small walls that now seemed to be closing in on her. She grabbed the last picture they’d taken together before he died. Laying the picture on his pillow in preparation, she placed a kiss to the tips of her fingers, whispered softly, “I wish I were stronger,”then placed her fingers to his lips then walked back into the bathroom to finish her task.
With pills still strewn on the bathroom counter next to the cup of water, she reached out to end it all. But as she did so, she discovered she was no longer alone. His strong hand grasped her small delicate one in a grip so tight she could feel the flow of blood to her fingers temporarily halt.
“You are strong,” he whispered. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known, ever will know. Don’t do this…”
“You’re not real…,” she sobbed, attempting to break free of his grip. “You’re not real!” Falling to her knees, shoulders shaking with the force of her pain, “YOU’RE NOT REAL!” she screamed through sobs. “You’re not real!”
“ I’m really here Mel…can’t you feel me?” His touch was light as a feather as he slid to the floor beside her, cradling her head in his hands. “You are strong. Please don’t do this.” Looking into her eyes, he reached up, tenderly and slowly so as not to scare her, and wiped the tears that continued to fall.
“I can’t live without you,” she cried, leaning into his touch—savoring the feel of him beside her. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t eat! I can’t sleep! I don’t fucking want to do this without you! Why did you leave me?! WHY! What did I ever do to deserve a life without you!” Giving up, she fell into him with a sigh of exhausted grief.