an emotional and unforgettable read about losing the one you love and learning how to go on without them.
Holding on to my husband, Ben’s, hand, it’s so thin and fragile; in one short month, his strong muscularity is a distant recollection of the man he was. The man I married who promised me forever is being robbed of the future he deserved. The color in his face has changed in the last few hours. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, his breathing has slowed. It won’t be long now until he’s gone.
Our son, Braxley, is wrapped up in a ball tucked beside him. I’m not sure if letting Braxley lie with his dad is the right thing to do, but in these situations, there are no rulebooks. Our son wanted to sleep next to his dad, who am I to tell him he can’t? This is the last shred of physical comfort he can draw from his dad, and he should have it. Hell, I’m two seconds from crawling in next to them. I really don’t know why I haven’t.
“I love you, Ben,” I whisper, doing my best to stay strong, just like I promised him I would, and hope even though he’s no longer conscious he can still hear me. “I love you more than anything,” I whisper and choke back the tears.
He doesn’t move or respond, just slow, shallow breaths. His light blond hair is messy the way it always is, and it reminds me of the day we met at the beach off the coast of Seattle where we live. His eyes connected to mine and before we even spoke a word to each other, he owned me. It was a true case of love at first sight. I was his, and a few months later we married. That day seems so far away now; if only we could go back to that time.
Ben’s illness hit him quick and completely out of the blue. He was fine one day, healthy and strong, then the next he was in the hospital, going through chemo and radiation in hopes of stopping the growth of the tumors that were attacking him from the inside out.
His body couldn’t even tolerate the first round of treatment, and we were thunderstruck by the reality that we were already out of options. The cancer had spread to his bone marrow, he wasn’t a candidate for a stem cell transplant, and he spiraled downward right before our very eyes. Each day made him weaker as the cancer claimed more territory. We scrambled to complete everything we could on his bucket list, while internally I tried to fight off the inevitability of his death, just to get me through the days. Looking at the one-page list he made of the things he wanted to do, it saddens me that I was not able to fulfill all of his wishes. A part of me feels as if I failed him.
Rhonda, his nurse, comes into our bedroom to do her usual check-up and exhales a deep, long breath after only listening to his heart for a few seconds. “It won’t be long now, Faye.”
I nod, the tears breaking free, and I know Ben hates it when I cry. He told me he’s not afraid of dying; he’s okay letting go, he’s only afraid to leave Braxley and I. Not able to resist the urge to be close to him for one more second, I lie down along Ben’s side, able to see Braxley sleeping across Ben’s emaciated chest. I cup Ben’s beloved, familiar face. He’s cold. Jesus, he’s so cold.
Pulling back, I take a good look at him and can tell it’s happening. “Noooooo,” I wail into his neck, holding on to him tighter than ever, breathing in his scent that I love. No amount of time could ever prepare me for this moment, and even now I pray for a miracle, for something to happen to not take him from us, not yet. “Don’t go, baby.” I go against every promise I made him about letting him go peacefully and beg him to stay. He gasps for air, and as I look at his face, one single tear rolls down his cheek, followed by his one final breath.
I shake my head, not wanting it to be true. “Oh, God,” I cry out into the palm of my hand, staring at him, waiting for him to breathe again for what feels like an hour, but it never happens, and oh my God…it never will.
Touching our lips together, I kiss him and breathe him in one last time. My hand moves to Braxley not wanting him to wake and see his dad like this. I only want him to remember Ben alive and vibrant, not this way. Letting go of Ben’s hand, I get up and move to the other side of the bed. I find the strength from our little boy and lift him up, cradling his growing five-year-old body tightly against mine as I walk out of the room, leaving half of myself there with my husband, knowing nothing will ever be the same.
Sometimes it’s all we get and one moment could change it all.
I hate the number one—it haunts me; my every waking moment is a constant reminder of what I lost.
One day, I met a guy and I fell in love.
He asked me one question…I said yes.
Our life was perfect…until one day everything changed.
I watched him slowly slip and fade away.
The one person I loved, my best friend, my partner, my everything, was slowly dying right in front of my eyes.
The doctors said he had one year left; he only lasted one month.
As I held on to his hand, he took one final breath and slipped from this world.
Leaving me; one woman, one broken heart, one child to show the world to…all alone.
This is my story about the power of one...
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