“Shit,” I mumbled as I checked my pockets. “Where are my glasses? Ah, here they are. Right where they should be on the book. I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘Of course they’re not in your pocket. You always put them down in some place that you forget about. Never in the same place so you can find them.’ I know. But see? I’ve found them, so no harm done. So where was I? Oh, yes, the end of our first date.”
I said this to her, lying there on the bed, as I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye. It was a nurse passing by the room. I put on my glasses and adjusted the frames so they didn’t slide off my nose. Your hand is in between both of mine and your face looks so peaceful like you’re sleeping the most restful sleep ever. The methodical beeping of the heart monitor could easily rock me to sleep but I’m struggling to stay awake to finish our story.
“Are you still listening to me? I want you to hear this before I go tonight.” I said to you gently.
“Mr. Da Silva? Five more minutes,” the nurse says to me with a wink before sliding back out of the room and down the hall.
“She’s so nice to you, that Jean. Well, looks like she’ll be able to let me stay with you for a little longer. Maybe I’ll be able to finish my story,” I whisper to you before continuing.
“So that was when you ordered your coffee and you ordered one for me, too. Remember that? I was so impressed. We were twenty-one years old and you were ordering for me! We split that cinnamon cake. It was delicious. I’ll never forget that crumble on top of the cake. Remember how you tried to make it after we got married and burned the whole thing?” I reminisced while laughing out loud.
“The kitchen filled with smoke, and there you are pregnant -- big as a house -- opening the windows in the middle of the night like it was nothing. I come in asking you what is that smell and you just said, remember what you said? Ha ha ha. You told me, ‘It’s nothing to worry about. Just a cinnamon cake with a mind of its own. It trying to escape by some kind of dehydration trick!’”
“What were you doing trying to bake that cake in the middle of the night, I’ll never understand those food cravings,” I said as I kept laughing.
“Okay, now back to our story. So there we are at the diner, late at night, talking about everything and nothing. Sharing that cake and having coffee. And then you ask me the big question, remember that? The question that broke the evening: What was my favorite movie! That’s it, that was the question. Now, let me think, how did you put it? Oh, yes: What movie makes you feel the most wonder? And it took me a little while to answer you but then I told you, do you remember? Of course you do, I said, ‘Star Wars.’’
“Now, you were really going to let me have it. You insisted that that couldn’t be my answer since the movie had only just come out a few weeks before. You said to me, and I’ll never forget this, “How can you even consider that movie? It’s so new? You haven’t even had time to mull over the potential of other movies in contrast just yet.” But I was certain that Star Wars was the movie that made me feel the most wonder. It was as if everything was possible after I saw it. I really wanted to believe that with enough talent and confidence, I, too, could battle the evil empire. That was when I decided to try for law school. It was that movie that made me want to fight for the underdog. Remember that? But you backed me up on that. You told me that if I was going to fight for the “little guy” that I should do it all guns blazing. And you were right. You were right. But you’re usually right. Isn’t that so, my dear?”
I looked carefully at your face and I could see no change, but I felt it. Your hand was lighter. I moved the sheets and blanket closer to your neck to make sure you were warm enough. You hadn’t moved in I couldn’t remember how long. It was really that long. Days. Weeks. Months. It must have been three months by then. But something was changing. The air in the room. There was something about something that I couldn’t put my finger on but it was there. It was different. I could feel it. The coldness, even though you were warm as you ever were. Same look on your face. Everything looked the same but it didn’t feel the same. I kept thinking the light bulbs must have been changed or something. It just wasn’t the same. I was feeling like maybe I was going a little crazy, or I’d spent too much time in that room with you. I honestly felt like if I could stare hard enough just across your bed that I could see... something, but it… There was nothing there. Just the equipment they had hooked up to you to keep monitoring, to make sure you were still with me.
“So I became a lawyer, but before that happened. Before I went to law school and we got married and had three great kids, before all that happened. We had our first date. So I tell you ‘Star Wars’ and you give me grief. Then I turn the tables on you and ask you what was the movie that gave you a feeling of wonder? And you said, that’s right, you said “Breathless”. I had no idea what you were talking about. Breathless? I said. Breathless? Did you just make that up? I really couldn’t believe there was some movie called Breathless. But you and your film classes, you loved that movie. Godard, you tell me. That’s the director. And he filmed the last sequence inside of a shopping cart. A shopping cart! Just to get the final steps of the main character smooth and to be able to keep up. You loved that movie. You thought that movie was genius. I couldn’t understand how a death sequence at the end of a depressing movie was genius, but you were convinced it was perfect. And in its perfectness was the wonderment of what else is possible, even in the face of an existential crisis. So, Star Wars and Breathless were having a date. It was too funny. I still can’t believe you went out with me again after that. I figured that after that conversation you were going to check me off the list.”
And I stared blankly at the wall behind your head. My mind went blank. And then I smiled, and I said to you, “But you didn’t. You didn’t check me off. You, somehow, loved me more. You’ve always had my back. Always. You’ve seen in me the potential to make a great ending, even when all I was looking at was the fight. But you were right. You were right. We were a great team.”
I started to weep quietly, and just then Nurse Jean popped her head in, “Mr. Da Silva? It’s been thirty minutes. I don’t mind you staying, you know that, but you should head home to get some rest. She’ll be here in the morning.”
“I know. I know,” I said patting your hand gently. “I was just about to finish up our chat anyway. I’ll head out in a minute. Thank you, Jean.”
“Good night, Mr. Da Silva.”
“Good night, Jean.”
“Well, my darling. That was a worthwhile first date. I got to keep my best girl, and you got, well, you got an old man telling you stories in the middle of the night is what you got.” I leaned over the kiss your cheek and I felt that what I was about to say was a lie, but I needed to say it outloud anyway.
“Good night, sweetheart. I’ll see you in the morning.” And I took one last, long look at you and your room before I left. I lingered as if I was trying to memorize every detail. Making a bookmark of this moment.
As I got into my car I realized just how truly exhausted I was, and decided to close my eyes before turning on the engine. Just to get some quick shuteye before driving away. I was awoken, what seemed like only minutes later, by my phone ringing in my pocket. My glasses were askew and I had drooled slightly on my cheek. I fumbled around for my phone and saw that it was the hospital number. And I knew, but I pressed the green button anyway and spoke, “Hello?”
“Mr. Da Silva?”
“Mr. Da Silva, this is Jane. I… She’s...”
“I know.” I said as my eyes filled with tears and my voice cracked. “Thank you, Jane. I’m just in the parking lot. I never made it home. I’m coming up.”