Her eyes; once as vibrant as a jungle canopy, were glassed over, their energetic sparkle long gone. Her skin was as wrinkled as a dried raisin, shrivelled and lifeless. The veins beneath the skin were bulging like a frog’s eyes. Pete stared at them, hoping they would throb strongly once more, like they always used to. She still had a slightly pained smile attached to her slightly pained face, dry lips parted from the last words, only words she still had to say: “I’m sorry.”
Pete and Jamie were perched by the side of Joanne’s immaculate hospital bed. They looked at each other, not talking, not sure what to say. “Why is she sorry?” Jamie whispered, trying to restrain himself from sobbing heartily.
“I’m not sure.” Pete replied, floods of tears preventing him from speaking clearly. “I loved Joanne so much. She’s gone.”
Pete and Joanne had been married for 60 blessed, happy years. They lived alone, supporting and comforting each other at times of illness or upset, although recently their doctor, Jamie, had been helping them. After developing cancer, Joanne had become as frail as a twig, and found life difficult to bear. Jamie couldn’t really do anything to help her, so he only really came to keep her company and reassure her about what was going on. She had become extremely close to him as a result of this, and told him everything. Pete didn’t like Jamie; mostly because he felt that he had taken his much loved wife away from him. In Pete’s mind, Jamie had stolen his best friend; his only friend.
Pete felt as if all the happiness he had once owned and cherished had been sucked out of him, rendering him miserable and unable to stop thinking about Joanne. The thought that he was next to suffer continually drifted into his ancient mind. Whoever laid their eyes upon him would think the same thing. His light grey hair was the texture of straw, and the lightest of tugs would pull it out, revealing more of his spotted scalp. He had pale blue eyes, glowing with intense wisdom from his years of observing and wondering. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, bear himself to think about moving into a care home, although he knew it was inevitable that it was his only option.
Pete stared blankly at his patterned wall, burying himself in questions he knew no one could bring themselves to answer. “What point is there to life without having someone enjoy it with?” he asked himself solemnly, his bushy eyebrows furrowing with thought. He lay down on his bed, and smiled as he remembered the better times, when he and Joanne were young and carefree. He walked over to his clock, and twisted back the hands, wishing he was twisting back the time.
“When I saw her leaving us, it was like my whole life, all I had ever worked for, had been snatched away from me. I wish she could be with me for one more day. Just one. I wish we were young again.”
“I understand. I’m sorry.” Jamie replied, his deep voice toned with respect and sympathy, touching Pete lightly on the arm to show a hint of affection.
“You wouldn’t understand! You’re thirty and not even married! You don’t even have a girlfriend! You have o idea how it feels to lose the one person left in your life!” Pete shouts, his voice trembling, eyes streaming with tears, fat index finger pointed in Jamie’s direction.
“Ok. I don’t completely understand then, but I have an idea. I feel sorry for you Pete. I know this may not be the best time to tell you, but there is something you have to know.”
“What?” Pete snapped violently.
“I know what Joanne’s last words meant. Thirty four years ago, Joanne had an affair.” Jamie said slowly and cautiously, waiting for an eruption from the broken-hearted old gentleman. His body tensed, preparing himself for what was to come next. His heart pounded strongly, so strongly is seemed all he could hear.
“She told you and not me?! And you had the cheek and the audacity to not tell me! How long have you known?!” Pete screamed, his voice rasping and hissing, sending a rainfall of saliva onto Jamie’s face. He looked like a rabid dog eating soap.
“Joanne didn’t want me to tell you, as she feared you would never forgive her. And about a year. I should have told you.” Jamie sheepishly replied, beads of sweat forming on his round forehead, clenching and unclenching his fists in turn.
“A year! Why did she tell you in the first place? And why would she put me through this!?!” Pete’s face was bright red, and Jamie almost laughed at the mental image of steam exploding from his ears.
“Again, I’m sorry but I don’t think she loved you to be honest. She told me in confidence that she had been unhappy and had met someone that she thought she could be more open to.” By this point, if Pete was younger, he would have leapt up and ripped every strand of blonde hair out from Jamie’s head and burned it. Instead, he went on a massive rant, using language I would never even consider repeating.
“I can’t believe this is happening! My wife dies, I found out she cheated on me, and now some idiot of a doctor tells me she didn’t love me? This is insane!”
Jamie eventually calmed the raging bull, and put him on anti-depressants. This was a bad idea however, although at the time it seemed appropriate.
That night, after a great deal of contemplating about what was wrong, what was right, and what was the best thing he could do, Pete made his decision. The last decision he could ever make. Pete had always thought of himself of a bit of a tough man, that nothing could hurt him. But since Joanne’s struggle, he had discovered that he really was only human. That night, Pete followed through with his plan. He overdosed on his prescribed drugs, and killed himself. Who could blame him? What is life without someone to share it with?
Jamie was obviously startled and disturbed by Pete’s suicide, and also changed for life. It helped him to become a better doctor, and taught him that the easy option was not always the best option; that he should have talked to Pete instead of giving him drugs . He learned that humans need someone to live alongside, and he experienced how easily we are affected by things from the past.
By MF, S2