I don't pick up the mail. I don't pick up the phone. I don't answer the door. I‘d just as soon be alone. I don't keep this place up. I just keep the lights down. I don't live in these rooms. I just rattle around.
Ghost In This House,
When the apocalypse hit no one else could see it, not really. They came to the funeral, sent cards, and dropped off casseroles never knowing they were witnessing a post-apocalypse that consisted of one zombie. The day Monique died was the end of John’s world even if the rest of the world didn’t know.
Cancer sucks. It doesn’t just take your life; it steals your soul, everything you hold dear. Monique had been a wedding crasher, and a funeral crasher, and a graduation crasher. If there was a party or gathering Monique would crash it. Nothing could contain Monique until "The Big C" put an end to her escapades. She was bound to her bed while the disease attacked her breasts and lungs and lymph nodes and liver. Through it all she never complained, not once. She was herself to the end.
John had met Monique at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain. He had gone there to run with the bulls. John was known for doing crazy things. He was an extreme skier, a motorcycle enthusiast, and had tried his hand at stock car racing. He had a bucket list before most people had a shopping list. He was going to sneak up a pyramid and stand on every continent in the world. John loved it when his heart was racing and his mind was on autopilot but that day he discovered there was no thrill like Monique.
He was sitting alone at an outdoor table doing one of the things he loved best: people watching. John knew everyone had a story and he would try to read them in the few moments before they would leave his view.
It was at that table that he'd first seen Monique. She was wearing a sundress with spaghetti straps that revealed the figure God had given her and she was too beautiful for him to avoid staring. A good people watcher should be able to stare without being noticed. They move their glance around and watch where someone is going rather than where they are. John could do none of that with Monique and she had caught him staring straight away. Once John had been caught there was no reason to stop so he fixed his sights on her as she walked right up and kissed him.
That was Monique; that was his last first kiss. She then sat down, ordered a coffee, and the rest was their history. John never completed the run, in fact, he never lived any of his wild adventures but he didn’t count it as a loss. Monique was the puzzle piece that filled the hole in his soul. She was his bucket list.
Life with Monique was never dull, she was a force of nature. She had her own gravitational field and that magnetism had drawn John in and he never left. She gave him two children, (a boy, and a girl) and a life most would die for. John never felt the breath of a bull at his back but he felt the touch of love in his heart. He never felt the hot sands of Egypt or saw the pyramids but he was able to build a life filled with love and that was more than enough. Monique completed his ledger but now she was gone and he was alone, so very alone. All his friends were their friends and he didn’t want to see any of them. All of his hobbies were their hobbies and he didn’t want to do any of them. All of his joys, his pleasures, his dreams were theirs and they all died the day she did. There was nothing left for him to do; nothing that is but to join her.
Figuring out how to kill yourself isn’t as easy as it seems. There are scores of ways to go but each has its drawbacks so as John set about to choreograph his demise he took particular care to think out each option.
He could shoot himself; he had a gun but it’s so messy and there could be no open casket. He could hang himself but the idea of a rope around his neck as the life drained slowly from his body was even more undesirable than shooting himself. He could jump from the tallest building in town but he didn’t want anything so public. It had to be poison. An overdose of something that would put him into a sleep from which he would never wake. That would allow him to go peacefully into the light. It would be his highway back to Monique.
Getting the drugs to complete the task was easy. John had quite a few left over from Monique's last days. He was supposed to return all unused medication but if he was no longer around to answer for their absence - well that was a problem that would take care of itself.
Deciding when to do it was a little more problematic. John’s son and daughter were still in town. If he waited until they left they would have to buy plane tickets back but if he did it while they were there they would find his lifeless body. It turned out there is a lot to think about when you are going to kill yourself.
Then there was the need for a note. John was a note person; he never did anything without one. “I’m going to the store, I’ll be right back.” “Please take out the trash.” “I’m ordering Chinese for dinner, don’t fill up on junk.” Yes, there had to be a note for his kids. They had to know it wasn’t their fault.
John hadn’t written a note since Monique’s death. There hadn’t been a reason; he never left the house. As he searched for a pad and pen there were none to be found. This, of course, would not do. He had to find something on which to write his note or he simply could not kill himself. Then he remembered the pad in Monique’s bedside table. She always kept a pad and pen because, like John, she was also a note person.
John made his way to the bedroom and sat down on Monique’s side of the bed for the first time in years. Opening the top drawer of Monique‘s bed side table was harder than John imagined but he was determined. The pad was right on top with a pen also in plain sight. John grabbed both and shut the drawer out of respect. As he flipped the pad open, an envelope fell to the floor startling John but not nearly as much as the note addressed to him on the first page.
My Dearest John,
You found my note. I knew you would. You had to leave a note for the kids. Good for you. If I know you, and I do, you are without hope. You have decided that life without me is not worth living and you couldn’t be further from the truth. You were the love of my life and I know even in death that I was yours but you had dreams before me - dreams a married man can’t fulfill. I want you to do it all for me and with me. You wanted to see the world. You wanted to walk on all seven continents. You wanted to see the pyramids, you wanted to run with the bulls. I want you to do it all. I want you to take this note with you back to Pamplona. I want this note to be in your breast pocket as you get a picture of yourself in front of the pyramids. (Don’t try to climb them, that’s illegal and you could end up in the clink.) Go to every continent on earth and do all the things you would have done if we hadn’t met and bring this note and the memory of me with you. You were always my rock, my true north. You gave yourself to me in a way that we became one. I want to give this gift back to you. If you love me say yes. Did you say yes? I can’t hear. If you did, please look in the envelope. You will find a ticket to Spain to begin your journey. The rest is up to you, but don’t stop until you’re done. Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here waiting for you. I love you forever and throughout time.
Not since Monique had walked up and kissed him on his trip to Pamplona had John felt so unsettled. She'd done it again. She had reached up from the grave to give him life for the second time and he said to her spirit, “Yes.” He then picked up the pen and wrote a note to his children.
I’m going to the store to pick up stuff for my trip to Spain. There’s a casserole in the refrigerator. I’ll see you when I get back.
And with Monique's note in hand, he headed to the car to prepare for their adventure.