The day when you left us



A grim recollection of Eda's passing some years ago, as Waelden experienced it.

 

A night had never been longer, a day had never been shorter, the stars had never seemed so far away and the shadows had never been darker, as was the day when you left us. Your fair, pale skin was hot like the flames of a roaring fire; your golden, lustrous hair tangled and ripe with sweat and tears; your loving, caring hands were quivering, fingers white as snow clenched tightly around my own. You shivered and trembled like a leaf carried by a cruel and freezing wind, but inside you were burning, consumed by the dreary shadow of ominous death. Little Ethel wept with lifeless eyes as she wiped your forehead with a soaked cloth to dampen the fire inside you, though nothing could stop this dreaded sickness. Our healers could do nothing more, no medicine or salves could aid you. And so we sat there by your bedside, Ethel and I, just watching, crying, dreading, hoping, with every strained breath you pulled into your weary lungs, that you'd open your eyes again and come back to us; to me as a wife and lover, and to Ethel as a mother.

 

"Fight, woman! Fight the fire! Fight for us, for everything!", I cried to you with a shattered voice that drowned in tears.

 

Dying embers from the fireplace and lit candles of wax were our only lights this dawnless night; our only source of hope and faith, where all else had faded into a grim and muddled gray of doubt and despair. Your once so strong and arduous voice was wrecked, your words fragmented like a mountain crushed to stones; you spoke quietly of flowers and towers, of water and horses, and our names came across your lips every once in while, though in no way that made sense. Your eyes flickered back and forth beneath your eyelids like those of one trapped in a dream, and what horrors or delights you saw, none will know but you. And then there was a sudden change in light, for a ray of sunlight found its way into our home and unto your bed; a single glimmer of hope when morning finally came after an endless night of dread.

 

"Take me... outside", you whispered when the soothing sun caressed your burning skin, and so faint it was that my ears barely registered it at first. "Waelden, take me out", you whispered again, with just a little more clarity in your muddled speech, as if the sun itself was trying to drag you back into the world of the living.

 

Weary and exhausted from lack of sleep and of food and of water, I took you up and you were as light as a feather in my arms. Your gown of linen, pale and soaked, laid draped like a second skin over your body, and your arms slowly worked their way up around my neck with every little piece of strength they could muster. Ethel ran to open the door and it swung open with a raspy groan, as if awakened from a deep sleep. In my arms I carried you, the love of my life and the mother to my daughter; and I carried you for the last time, though I did not know it. The sun was warm and bright and caring as I laid you down upon the green summer grass, still wet and cold from dewy drops, and I held your head in my lap, caressing your burning forehead with as gentle a touch I could gather with my trembling hands. My tears fell upon your face and you smiled for a moment, almost begging for more, as if my tears were your water of life. You opened your eyes for an instant and looked at me, and they were still the deepest ice-blue pools of radiant wonder, the very eyes I fell in love with so many years ago. No more words you spoke to me, nor I to you, for your final sigh drained what little spirit you had left and your heart stopped beating; your body too weary to battle the sickness any longer. You closed your eyes for the last time, and never would I see them again in this world. I screamed and wailed as all signs of life left you, and Ethel came running, screaming, crying, throwing herself at you and me for one final embrace together as a family. 'Twas the last time we were all together. 'Twas the day when you left us.