For My Wife
Keeping a promise is about more than just saying the words and then following through, I cannot respect nor understand the mentality behind breaking a promise. I am not one to ever break a promise and this is doubly true for something as sacred as a wedding vow.
When I was 15 I went to the movies with my friends Brian and Jacob to see National Lampoon’s Class Reunion. It’s was a pretty terrible film and half way through the scene where Chuck Berry is playing guitar in the gym and everyone is dancing, I decided it would be a good time to refill my popcorn. It was the end of October and I remember walking into the lobby just as another movie was letting out. They were opening the front doors, letting the October wind in and as they did the lobby immediately dropped 10 degrees. As they filed out towards the exit, between the sea of people, standing by the water fountains with her blue coat draped over her left arm was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I say woman but in truth she was a kid, a teenager like myself but there was this heir about her; the way she stood half leaned against the wall as if she owned it and yet not in a rude or verboten way, her bright blue eyes, the listless gaze she floated amongst the people within the passing crowd. As she stood there I felt this instant magnetism as if something was pulling me to her. It was then that I noticed I had literally stopped walking and when the crowd finished passing I walked over and introduced myself to the young woman who would eventually become my wife; Lynne.
I remember when we first kissed she was home from school sick and I thought I’d drop by to make sure she was doing okay. I walked into the living room of her parents’ bungalow and saw her wrapped up from head to toe in blankets. Her ruby red nose, sore from sneezing was all that stuck out but when she saw me she lit up like a Christmas tree. Bashfully I handed her the soup and without a second passing she pulled me in and we kissed. As we kissed I could feel her wildly beating heart begin to slow and in that moment I knew this was the woman for me.
I honestly believe that with some people everything just seem to click. I won’t say that we were always on the same page but for the important things there was never a doubt in our minds; we both knew what we wanted. Lynne inspired me to be a better version of myself and I in turn helped her come out of her shell. With Lynne I was free from worrying about how to phrase something, instead she helped me put into words the things that I didn’t know how to explain. She was always much brighter than me and together we built a life. When we were together there was this sense of companionship, partnership and yet also this overwhelming magnetism as if together we were one whole person.
The inverse was true when we were apart, I’d often feel like I was missing a vital piece of myself when Lynne was away or if I had to travel for business. Luckily we didn’t have to be apart much as Lynne got a job at the University as an associate professor and I worked for my father dealing in Office supplies and furniture. It wasn’t stimulating work but it paid the bills and it left time in our lives for what was most important: us.
We were married in the crisp autumn of October, our favourite month and season. On our wedding day my heart was bursting, so much so that I could barely make it through the words I had written down for my Vows. They weren’t just words to me either; every single letter written down in my scraggly handwriting told the story of how important Lynne was to me and how much I needed her in my life. Lynne’s vows nearly brought me to tears when I realized they were almost exactly the same as mine; though we hadn’t shared any of our idea with each other we both ended with the exact same line, “We will always be together,” During the toast my brother said that it was proof that we truly were made for each other and we both agreed.
The first years of marriage flew by and while other newlyweds would talk about the first years being the most difficult we both found them to be the most exciting first step on the road to our life together. As selfish as others may have seen it, our compatibility was also part of the reason we decided not to have children. We were so happy and confident in our own little world that the idea of adding another just never appealed to us. The ebb and flow of our lives together was unmatched, we could seamlessly make plans without disturbing our routines and yet we also left room for adventures in the day to day. We loved the idea of heading out on a weeknight to catch a movie or dinner and not having to worry about a babysitter. Our world was perfect, together we could take on the world and anything it threw at us…
…until the accident.
A few years ago we were driving home from my parents’ house after Christmas dinner. I hadn’t had much to drink but I remember my eyes felt heavy and tired. We were heading back home on the highway when the wind picked up and blew a large patch of snow across our lane. As the snowflakes flicked and danced across the road my eyes drifted with them, in the wind they made such surreal shapes. As if caught in a small cyclone they darted up and down, ducking and bobbing as they did. After a second I realized that I had drifted into the next lane and as my eyes shot back to the road before me I accidentally jerked the steering wheel as well.
On any other day it would have been a sharp but small maneuver but as luck would have it our tires hit a patch of black ice and as they turned the car did not.
The car flipped a total of 3 times before landing upside down.
From the driver’s seat I could see the blood pooling around our heads as bits of broken glass and debris littered the ceiling. The car groaned and creaked under the displaced weight and after a minute of adjusting to the askew picture, Lynne and I looked at each other. As our eyes met, hers welled with tears that rolled up across her forehead and landed with a sharp pluck on the metal roof of the car.
In that moment I could not imagine my world without her in it and as the passing cars on the highway forced her silhouette I saw the light behind her bright blue eyes flicker and start to fade. For the first time since I met her in that theatre lobby, Lynne & I were apart.
For three long years I have felt nothing………but today is our anniversary.
I came home tonight to see that the lights were on and the front door was unlocked and as I walked inside the house it seemed colder than I remembered. From the front hallway I could see the windows in the living room and the kitchen were both wide open. I stood there silently, listening to the house creak and after a moment I headed into the kitchen as the curtains swayed with the cold October wind. I took a few steps towards the kitchen window and stopped as I saw the open bottle of red wine on the counter.
As I stood there regarding the faint red dots of spilled wine on the counter a noise came from our bedroom upstairs. Slowly I left the kitchen and began walking upstairs. My hand ran along the white painted wooden bannister as I approached the second floor, each one of my steps bringing me closer to the soft noise.
The second floor hallway was completely black save a thin crack of flickering light coming from our slightly ajar bedroom door. I swallowed hard and as I approached the door I could hear soft music playing from inside. Nervously I took a shallow breath and slowly reached out to open the door with my palm. As I did the bluish light from the bedroom spilled out into the hallway. Laying on the bed with an empty wine glass in her hand was Lynne, my wife.
The dim light of the TV bathed her in a soft blue glow as I stood in the open doorway watching her. After a moment of I managed a single word, “Lynne?”
Quickly she sat straight up in bed and looked at me. In a flash she reached out and flicked on the bedside lamp filling the room with bright yellow light. It was in that moment I saw the absolute terror on her face as she looked at me.
Nervously I stepped towards her as my blackened lips tried to form the words I have longed to say, my bare feet leaving pieces of rotted flesh and wet footprints on the grey carpet behind me as I did. I could feel my tongue, porous and festered, wag between my carious teeth as I called her name once again, but only a dull moan came out. Lynne recoiled in horror as I approached her, her eyes wide and white as she tried to breath. I could only imagine the rancid stench I must have omitted as I reached the end of the bed. She began to scream and again I tried to speak to her, “Lynne, it’s okay I’m here now,” but my words were lost amongst my decayed remains and all that came out was a crackling sigh and a guttural grunting. She saw me as the monster I appeared to be, rotted and broken, a horrid interpretation of what her husband once was.
But none of that mattered…. we were together again.
Keeping a promise is about more than just saying the words, it’s about understanding why you’ve made the promise….and as I tore through my Lynne’s stomach, chewing her pliant intestines, watching the life drain from her bright blue eyes, I could feel her wildly beating heart begin to slow once again. Together we were one whole person and now, we will always be together.