Sarah had never smoked in her entire life, and boy, was she glad she hadn’t. Now more than ever, as she looked down the hall towards the room of little Macy: the girl who needed a strong, healthy pair of lungs.
Sarah remembered the exact moment she told Jack, the star-crossed love of her life, that she wanted to let go. She remembered his pinched eyelids, bloodless lips and white knuckles.
She explained how chemo would only give her a couple more months, and a painful death. The cancer was too strong and too happy in her brain to leave and let her be. In a few weeks, she’d become completely delirious. Hallucinations would be her best friends, and her husband would be long forgotten, never forgiven.
Sure, there were ways to make sure she didn’t fade away into the realm of the loved but forgotten. But, for how long? And at what cost? At the cost of her forgetting Jack? No. No can do.
Instead, she could give the girl the lungs, and fade away peacefully, in the arms of her husband, who she would remember and cherish until she is gone. Jack’s last memory shouldn’t have to be Sarah; painfully writhing as the last breathe is finally yanked out of her body. Sarah shouldn’t have to live on machines that beep at night, making her think that she is actually a figment of someone’s imagination.
She would have to be quick, to not let the cancer cells journey beyond the brain stem. Or, Macy would lose the elaborate, beautiful, complete life she has been dreaming of.
Jack cried and cried, not caring who saw, not caring what people thought. He couldn’t let go. He wouldn’t let go.
But Sarah had always been adamant. Strong-willed. Stubborn, sure. Stupid even. But, adamant.
She talked to him for the last time. Holding his hand in hers, smiling as he stroked her limp hair, occasionally kissing her hollow cheek.
She said to him the last thing he’d hear, the last thing he should ever want to know, “Jack, I love you, and I always will. I know it’s a clichéd line, but you are my book, while I am just a mere chapter in yours. You have your life ahead. You are just 28. I want you to love again, Jack. To live again. I won’t say ‘do it because it would make me happy’. No, I would be extremely jealous.”
Jack chuckled slightly, sniffling constantly, pulling his lips in a thin line to stop him from bawling again.
Sarah smiled and continued, “But I want you to not live in the past. I want you to be happy. I want you to move on and find a marvelous girl, and love her. Because she deserves to have her own Jack. All I ask is to not think of me when you’re with her, because there’s only so much a girl could endure.”
Sarah laughed lightly at her joke, forcing Jack to chuckle again, even as tears kept streaming down his face, pooling at the bunch of his shirt.
Sarah wiped the tears from his face and said, “I love you Jack. And I respect you for letting me do this. Don’t forget me. But don’t hold on to me. A bouquet of flowers once a year is more than enough.”
Jack didn’t respond, he only looked at her beautiful face. Even when she was sick, she was gorgeous. As gorgeous as the day he first saw her in pre-school. And fell in love there and then.
Sarah nodded, looking towards the doctor, and then looked back at Jack, touching his face, his eyes, his lips, his tiny dimple.
The doctor, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye discreetly, injected the medication into her IV bag, and pulled the plug, detaching the machines that let Sarah breathe, that let her live.
She winked at Jack one last time, as the images got blurrier and soon, in the room sat a boy, clutching the lifeless hand of the girl he loved almost all his life, shoulders slumped in defeat.