Unfinished

I didn’t kiss her good-bye this morning. She was rushed, had woken up late and was out the door before I could kiss her lips and tell her I loved her. Chasing after her into the garage, I caught her as she slid into the car. She blew  me a cheeky kiss and promised to make it up to me later. Then she was off like a shooting star across the dark canvas of early morning. 

“Mr. Davis, are you still with me?” the voice on the other end asked, its sound tinny as if coming through a long tunnel.”

“What? Yes, I’m here.” 

“I asked if there was someone you would like me to call?” 

“Didn’t you call me?” 

The voice replied, “I meant someone who could stay with you right now. You shouldn’t be alone.”

My wife loved being alone. She craved silence and solitude, needing the time apart to recharge. But even when she was off by herself, she always welcomed me or the children into her space, never once resenting the intrusion. 

She had been alone today, though. I wasn’t with her, didn’t even know what was happening, so when the time came, no one who loved her had been there.

“Did she suffer?” 

“No.”

Silence filled the line between us. I didn’t know what to say to this voice anymore. Diane had always known what to say. She smoothed out my rough edges and bridged the gap between my mind and my mouth. She was my  helping hand. Even in unfamiliar waters, I knew she was waiting for me on the other side. Over ten years of marriage, she had been a caring guide, a loving partner and a faithful friend. I owed it to her to care for her in her final moments.

“You said I had to come down?”

There was a hesitation, a pause, and then, “We need you to fill out some paperwork. We’d also like you to identify the body.”

I trembled, rage causing my voice to rasp. “Her name is Diane.”

The voice on the other end gentled. “Mr. Davis, I know this is not an easy situation. Please, can you give me the name or number of someone to call to come be with you?”

I looked around our home, at the basket of clean laundry waiting to be folded, at the unfinished afghan waiting to be completed, at her nightgown flung carelessly over the back of the couch. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine her light laughter and the fresh scent of her perfume. Everywhere I looked, I saw her. How could she be gone when she was all around me?

“She was in the middle of reading Alice in Wonderland to our youngest. They were going to go see the play next month. And  she was so excited to go to shopping and to a movie with our teenager this weekend.  Who is going to do that now?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Davis, I-“

“We were finally going to take our European vacation. I don’t want to go to Europe, but she does. Did. I’d have gone to the moon and back if she’d have asked me. I’d have done anything for her.”

Colors faded and blurred. A gaping hole opened in my chest and the room darkened and spun. Knees buckled and I sank to the floor, clutching the phone between my hands, an anchor in these swirling waters of grief and despair. 

Without her, I was incomplete.

“Mr. Davis?” the voice asked. 

“I didn’t even get to say good-bye.”

“I’m so sorry.”

Without her, I was unfinished.

(C) Sara Ackerman 2016

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