After 52 years
In the last hour, he kissed her goodnight and told her that he hoped she felt better in the morning. Before heading to his own bedroom, he stopped to look at her and her pallor sent him limping to the telephone, urging the emergency crew to hurry. He held her hand as long as they allowed him and then he stood in the entry hall, trying to see what was happening in her bedroom. When the paramedic told him that she was gone, all he did was look down at his hands. When they carried her outside to the ambulance, he could see that neighbors were gathered in their front yards, drawn by the flashing lights, but he didn't speak.
He had to sign some papers before the young men could leave. There were phone calls to make. He had to find the burial policies. He needed to change the bed where she had lain. It was the pillow that made him stop. Her honey and wheat shampoo, Ben-Gay, Mentholatum, Oil of Olay and that perfume with two birds on the bottle lingered along with the warm smell of her skin. Her hands had been so cold, so cold, unlike that morning when she had stood on one side of the bed and he the other, smoothing the sheets and blankets into their proper place, just as they had done every day.
He returned the pillow to the bed and made a gentle tuck of the coverlet under the front edge of the pillow just as she liked. He had forgotten where he had placed his cane and held onto the wall as he walked down to the telephone in the den. He sat down in his chair, next to the desk and the magazine rack and just stared at the basket filled with balls of yarn that sat next to the chair across from his. She was so sure of each movement, each loop and twist of thread, and he could still hear the quiet, rhythmic clicking of her crochet. It was then he realized that he no longer knew what to do.
This vignette was motivated by Sunday Scribblings.