Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fifteen Seconds

I tossed and turned all night. She noticed that I was not comfortable. Felt like something I ate didn't go down right. I chalked it up to indigestion. Not the first time that had happened. Would probably be gone by morning.
Just had to ride it out.
I knew just what not to say. I was good at that.

"Are you okay, honey"

"I'm fine, just something I ate I think"

As I awoke the next morning,  I was right. It was gone. I still didn't feel right, but the uncomfortable feeling was gone. I decided I should stop in for a doctors visit.

Sitting on the table,with that paper on top of the soft cushioned elevated examination table, I felt like I was wasting my time. I was fine. Just some indigestion. But she wanted me to have it checked out, and rather than argue about it, I appeased her and went. Better to just agree than tell her what was really going on, for years.

After the customary stethoscope and prodding and testing, the doctor concurred. Just a case of indigestion. Run along now and try not to eat so close to bed time.

Got ya doc. No more late night sandwiches with heavy carbs. No more plates of fries right before bed. Lucky for me I didn't have to tell him that these episodes were frequent and the chest pains were a lot more severe than I let on. I kept that to myself. I had made it this far, why speak up now?

The band played as we ate our food. It was a very nice,  calm late November Saturday night. Crisp cool air as we approached the bistro. The place was already buzzing. Gloria Peterson was about to play her acoustic set. Those that new good live folk music knew to come see her play.  It was a treat.
My wife ordered the Greek salad and then pan pizza.  I ordered the burger and fries. I had already downed two cokes by the time my dinner came.
The food was great.  So was the music. The night was going super. After the first set I received my third glass of coke. Kind of felt uncomfortable again. I guess the fries, plus the bread from the bun of the burger was getting to me again. I said nothing about that. Just excused myself.
Decided I needed to go to the bathroom. On my way back, just as I was about to re enter the bar area I felt a tinge in my chest. Had to gather myself for a second. About a minute went by and then I felt a bit better. Washed my face and hands at the sink and then made my way back to our table. I felt better and there was no need to mention it to her. Would only rile her up and make her worry. I never told her things like that. Never really told her anything. I kept it all to myself. The truth was these episodes had occurred for years, and just sort of went away. I got used to them and never bothered to mention  it. This last episode, the night before in bed, was one I couldn't hide from her.
The band was about to get up and do their second set, and I set out to eat the last little bit of fries left on my plate.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my arm. Then in my chest.  I grabbed for my chest and my breathing got short. I felt like someone had a bag over my head.
She noticed and cried out for help.
I leaned back and began to sink in my seat. I knew. I always knew this day would come. I ignored it because I wanted to avoid it. But now it was here. I kept it to myself and now I would die with the knowledge that I never spoke up, about so many things.
I knew. In my soul I knew. I only had a minute or so left. My time had come.
Now what? What should I do.
Only about 45 seconds left. The pain got deeper, I was focused on the pain. There was now hysteria around me. I heard others calling 911 for help. But it wouldn't matter. I would be long gone by the time the paramedics rushed here to pronounce me.
My eyes were open. I could see that they were trying to help me. About 30 seconds left now.  I am about to die. I know that. I have 30 seconds left, after a lifetime of chances to say what I should have said, I now had only 30 seconds to say what I wanted to say.
Some woman was on top of me,  pumping my chest, trying to help me. It wasn't going to work. About 20 seconds left now. She got off, it was futile.  I was fading away. My last breaths coming slower and slower now. I was still conscious and looking at my wife, who was holding my hand and crying hysterically. She now knew as well. It was over for me. Over for us. Just like that.
I've got fifteen seconds left now,  to say whatever I need and want to say. After a lifetime of chances, it boiled down to these fifteen seconds. To say all the things I've never said. Fifteen seconds.  That's it.
Trying to get the words out.  I have ten seconds left now. To tell her how I really felt. How sorry I was for all the hurt.  How it all came out of love. Ten seconds to undue all the damage I never thought I had done.
Five seconds left now. Starting to lose consciousness now. Trying to speak those words, but I can't speak. No oxygen and no breath. My time has come. I try to motion with my hands, but it's too late. My chest feels tight and I have one second left.
Then the stillness comes. She says "I love you". I hear that. That is the last thing I will ever hear. I can't say it back. It's too late. I had a lifetime of chances to say that. Now I have one second and no breath to say it. I never get that chance to say it.
It's too late for me. I am gone. I never got another chance to say what I always wanted to say. What I should have said a long time ago.

But didn't.

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