This millennium has grown too old for the world. As have you, my darling.
Outside, the street crackles with excitement; packed with revellers, dancers, grilled chicken, doughnuts, drums, poppers, horns, and a million streamers and balloons. A conga line weaves through the crowd. Glow sticks whirl in a galaxy of motion.
I shut the window and sit down beside you. I draw back the sheet to check your temperature. Your chest barely tells the rise and fall of life. You’ve been splintered with illness and treatment, dismantled and reconstructed. When your health could no longer be rebuilt, you were reduced to apologies and pitying looks.
You will always be magnificent to me.
You grimace. There’s some new pain in your breath. Some new grief in your face as you remember, or forget, something. Some part of the taxidermy that is you — all the loves, the lessons, the talents, the hates, the failings, the regrets.
Outside, people light fireworks. They prick the sky like constellations. Like Pleiades and
Orion signaling the change of seasons.
I close my eyes. After this year is over, I’ll sort through your life. The scarves. The
pearls. The hoarded words. Every receipt kept since 1979. I’ll be gentle, I promise. I’ll keep your best moments.
You always were a true poet. Those shining syllables you strung together …. You’d hunch over your desk among swathes of paper, writing lines, turning them around, flipping them over, staring at them from all angles until you reached epiphany and discarded every word.
Do you remember? I’d be at the window seat, marking papers. We’d find each other with a look, among the silence, the dusty light, the quietly living stories.
Then you’d be gone again, your mind dividing into endless complexities, finding worlds in the sand and stars. The further you looked, the more you saw. I stood back at my simple distance and marveled at the dimensions you gave paper and word.
Afterward, we’d walk through the autumn wood, and you’d point out everything I looked at but couldn’t see.
How we loved our life. The promise of health unwavered. We expected the future. Each new day impressed itself upon the last, building our history.
You wince again. Your breath catches. Ride it out. Write it out. I’ll help you. I’ll trap this moment, best I can, scribbled on paper. I’m sorry I won’t do it justice.
The sun has long buried itself beneath the earth. Midnight draws near.
I weave your fingers between mine. Your grip grows weaker each minute. It twists me into a bruise.
After this night, the mourning will come.
Ten! Nine! Eight!
Our time is nearly up, my darling.
Outside, the world anticipates tomorrow. Just like we once did ….
I’ll go with you as far as I can.
I won’t let go before you do.
I’ll help you close your eyes.