When they called at six in the morning I knew it wasn’t good. I picked up the phone with dread and was rewarded with my worst fear. You had been taken to the hospital unresponsive with no pulse. When I called into the hospital I learned that you didn’t survive. I continue to ask why, because I don’t know. I don’t know why the measures we took to save your life did nothing. You just never got better.
This wasn’t your first close call. I remember ten years ago when I had to perform CPR to bring you back from a sudden arrhythmia. Then there was last year when you had that stroke and the doctor thought you were going to die. I stopped to pray, but prayers are stupid things. They do nothing when there’s no one to hear them. At least no one worth my time. I turn my back on the god who made promises that he couldn’t keep.
I’m left only with memories of you. I remember that t-shirt you used to have with the colored horses on it and how I used to count them when I was a toddler. I remember that long ago, when you were only in your thirties, you told me you were “old.” You were there to hear me when I talked about nightmares or told creative stories.
You loved dogs. You enjoyed crossword puzzles and computer games, and you loved to read. Once upon a time you were confident and could take care of yourself and your family, and no one could stop you. You played the guitar and sang. You hung out with science fiction nerds and went to conventions.
Tonight I try to remember the funny times. There was the time I drew a boy burping in a large cartoon bubble, then forgot it when I left your office. It showed up again when your boss went to uncover the wipe board in the middle of a meeting with the whole office present. You bawled me out for leaving such a drawing in the middle of a serious meeting, but I only laughed.
There was the time we rode in the sleeper car on the train when I was a child. You warned my sister and I not to accidentally turn the shower on when we flushed the toilet because the two buttons were right next to each other. Later you went to the bathroom and suddenly started screaming. We knew exactly what happened as you came running through the door soaking wet with your pants around your knees.
Then there was the time the cat climbed from the bookshelf to your boobs and sat in loaf position as if you were a better shelf. You stood there for quite some time with that stubborn Siamese on your chest.
I remember you being fair. You had one rule to follow about playing outside: come home before the streetlights came on. One day I didn’t and you grounded me, and I didn’t argue because I knew that I had broken my promise. That was the way it was. We all lived together with very few conflicts and you ran a better household than you later believed.
We had a lot of fun together. There were the Friday nights we listened to Dr. Demento and watched Monty Python. You read stories with enough animation to be a professional narrator. We talked about music and volcanoes, and you taught my sister and I jokes and puns.
I remember you being caring. Whenever I got those nasty knots in my leg muscles you would rub them out, no matter how long it took. You helped talk me through several worries that were inflaming my chronic anxiety. Once upon a time you saved my life when I accidentally ingested toxic mold and passed out vomiting on the floor.
Then one day you began to fade. It started when you put down a book and never picked one up again. Then the logic puzzles went away. You stopped understanding the science fiction and fantasy stories we watched or read together. Eventually even conversation died and we just sat in silence. In the end even computer games were too exhausting for you. You sat and listened as I read stories to you, if you could stay awake for them.
You were disappearing on me and I didn’t know how to get you back. I begged. I prayed. I got angry. Nothing made a difference. You slipped away more and more every day.
You died miles away from me, but maybe somewhere in the confused swirl that was your brain you did this on purpose. You knew that if you did it at home I’d only blame myself. Whatever the case, you’ve gone and you’ve left behind an overwhelming emptiness. I’ve lost my best friend and I don’t know what I’ll do about that.
I wish I had something more deep and insightful to say to end this, but I can’t think of anything. I don’t know whether I should be sad or angry, but I can’t accept it right now. You’re gone now, I’ll never get you back, and it sucks.