My heart turns to ice and my stomach drops. “Now? But…now?”
His voice is gentle. “What’s the point of delay?”
He nods. “I suppose in some sense, I am fortunate.”
“I do get to spend the rest of my life with you.”
I kiss his face over and over. I’m aware that I’m talking to him but I don’t know what I’m saying. I may be telling him I love him. I may be telling him I’ve never loved anyone else and never will. I may be cursing him for leaving me. I really have no idea. It doesn’t matter. Those things are all true, whether I am telling him or not.
He takes his last breath a few minutes later. Exhale, and then – nothing.
I stare down at his face. It is not real.
He can’t hear me now. So I say it all again and this time I know I’m doing it. I talk to him until my voice gives out.
“Wait. One moment.” I must sound calm enough for them to stop when I say so. He is covered with a sheet. I go to the gurney and peel the sheet back.
I just look. Perhaps I had something to say but it’s gone now. It’s too late. The man I’ve lost wasn’t just my best friend, not now.
I stand up to give his eulogy. I only do it because I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. I talk about his brilliance, his dedication to his work. I talk about the people he helped and the criminals he brought to justice. I don’t talk about how he made me feel alive, or the way his eyes glowed when the sunlight slid behind them from the side.
I tell the mourners that he was my friend, and I am honored to have known and worked with him. I don’t tell them that I loved him, and that I love him still, and that if I had one wish in the world it would be that I could make it stop.
“Will you come?”
He sighs. “You’re the next best thing, John.”
“Hmm. I’m impressed.”
I smile. “You’d never say that if you were really here.”
“I am wounded by that accusation, John.”
Sometimes I can almost see him. I shut my eyes and picture him. “I love you.”
He doesn’t answer. He never does when I say that.
Six months out, I resign from the surgery. I have new business cards. John Watson, M.D. Consulting detective.
Still the only one in the world.
Alone On The Water - MadLori