HOLLY HELD HER BREATH, AND with tears in her eyes and a pounding heart, she read the familiar handwriting knowing that the person who had sat down to write to her would never be able to do so again. She ran her fingers over his words knowing that the last person to have touched the page was him.
My darling Holly,
I don’t know where you are or when exactly you are reading this. I just hope that my letter has found you safe and healthy. You whispered to me not long ago that you couldn’t go on alone. You can, Holly.
You are strong and brave and you can get through this. We shared some beautiful times together and you made my life. . . you made my life. I have no regrets. But I am just a chapter in your life, there will be many more. Remember our wonderful memories, but please don’t be afraid to make some more.
Thank you for doing me the honor of being my wife. For everything, I am eternally grateful.
Whenever you need me, know that I am with you.
Your husband and best friend,
PS, I promised a list, so here it is. The following envelopes must be opened exactly when labeled and must be obeyed. And remember, I’m looking out for you, so I will know. . .
Holly broke down, sadness sweeping over her. Yet she felt relief at the same time; relief that Gerry would somehow continue to be with her for another little while. She leafed through the small white envelopes and searched through the months. It was April now. She had missed March, and so she delicately picked out that envelope. She opened it slowly, wanting to savor every moment. Inside was a small card with Gerry’s handwriting on it. It read:
Save yourself the bruises and buy yourself a bedside lamp!
PS, I love you. . .
Her tears turned to laughter as she realized her Gerry was back!
Holly read and reread his letter over and over in an attempt to summon him back to life again.
Eventually, when she could no longer see the words through her tears, she looked out to the sea. She had always found the sea so calming, and even as a child she would run across the road to the beach if she was upset and needed to think. Her parents knew that when she went missing from the house they would find her here by the sea.
She closed her eyes and breathed in and out along with the gentle sighing of the waves. It was as though the sea were taking big deep breaths, pulling the water in while it inhaled and pushing it all back up onto the sand as it exhaled. She continued to breathe along with it and felt her pulse rate slow down as she became calmer. She thought about how she used to lie by Gerry’s side during his final days and listen to the sound of his breathing. She had been terrified to leave him to answer the door, to fix him some food or to go to the toilet, just in case that was the time he chose to leave her. When she would return to his bedside she would sit frozen in a terrified silence while she listened for his breathing and watched his chest for any movement.
But he always managed to hang on. He had baffled the doctors with his strength and determination to live; Gerry wasn’t prepared to go without a fight. He kept his good humor right up until the end. He was so weak and his voice so quiet, but Holly had learned to understand his new language as a mother does her babbling child just learning to talk. They would giggle together late into the night, and other nights they would hold each other and cry.