They’re all looking at you funny like you shouldn’t be here. The strange part is, they’re right, you shouldn’t have come, you expected the reaction but it’s still a shock.
People mourn in different ways, some cry, some turn to God, some turn away from God, some die a little inside, and others view the world with a shiny pair of sunglasses, hating everything that stumbles into their gaze. You know it’s all in your head but everyone seems to glare through you, shooting holes in your tattered ego.
You shift anxiously in your chair, trying to sink farther into the shadows.
You would have stayed home except you know that you would have never forgiven yourself. She deserves this much. She did so much for you, cut the rope, was your light in the dark. When no one believed in you, when they all left, she was still there.
And yet you disappointed her.
Despite her gentle smile and determined eyes you always knew she was disappointed. You were her sob story, nothing but an ignorant old man in search of hope. Something rich people throw money at. You could see that familiar pity hidden behind her mask of patience, it was there every time you stumbled, the words becoming a noose around your neck.
And you would hang there, flailing desperately, waiting for your neck to snap.
But you would still try, praying that one day you could make her smile. That one day you might learn to fly.
It’s strange you came, you were neither friend nor family.
You were probably nothing to her, but she was everything to you.
Sure, the crowd knows who you are, she must have told them about you, the man who chokes on his own name. You know they’re terrified you're going to speak, embarrass yourself, ruin the service.
But you have to, despite being just an ex-patient, a stuttering old man pathetically in love with his therapist.
Those Saturdays were what you struggled through the week for. It was the only two hours but it was much more than that to you. Bright and early Saturday morning you would buy her coffee, as always.
A double shot expresó and croissant for her.
A hot chocolate for you.
Every morning you would buy her another bouquet of flowers. Daisies, her favorite. You bought them to replace the wilting ones from last week that she kept in the windowsill.
You would wear your finest suit those Saturday’s, of which you only had one. But every Friday night it would be well pressed and ready.
Every Saturday morning, your orders would be ready the moment you walked up. The salespeople would smile at you, wondering
who it was you brought the gifts to. You suppose they must have thought you were mute, but its easier that way. You dream of one day thanking them for their goods, explain your painful silence to them. You imagine the look of awe on their faces when you speak. Maybe you could be friends with them, go to thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties...
But you're getting ahead of yourself, the dream is little more than something to indulge in on rainy days.
After you picked up the morning gifts, you would march down the street, daisies in hand, expertly balancing the coffees and your worn little notebook.
And then you would knock, she would answer and accept the gifts absentmindedly, thanking you almost like an afterthought. You would sit in that same leather chair, your chair, by the window as she carefully replaced the flowers.
You would pull out the notebook and beam at her.
And then you would start.
“I’m going to the party.”
The words became sticky and cold on the roof of your mouth.
She smiled understandingly.
“Remember, try not to focus on the word but on the entire phrase.”
You jotted that down neatly in your notebook, beneath thousands of other little remarks.
And it would go on and on, you would stumble but continue fighting, bleeding and bruised, battling her pitying looks.
“I’m going tto the paarty.”
Her eyes lit up, her glee was contagious. And you’d hold back tears as she smiled at you, beaming with pride. You’d try to hold on to her smile, remember it, like a photograph in your mind, but it never worked.
And then the struggle would continue as the piteous sorrow returned to her face.
Then it was over. She would lead you to the door and wave you goodbye. And every Saturday you would look back at her, desperate to scream:
*“Thank you. Oh god, thank you. I would be dead without you, become just a shell. I live for you my darling, for your smile. You knew nothing about me but I know everything about you. I will become anything for you. I love you, oh by God, how I love you. Thank you for being my everything, one day I will be enough.”*
But no words ever came. The noose only tightened around your neck, tears would fall from your eyes but you would leave.
Ready for next Saturday.
For fifteen years the words tumbled from your slit throat upon the rug in a gory mess.
So every night you practiced, rehearsing day after day. For hours the mirror mocked your mistakes. The victories you had then went uncelebrated, all alone.
But the words never came when you needed them to. Yet ignorantly, you still fought.
No, you should be here. You doubt anyone in the room knew as much about her as you did. You doubt they knew her favorite drink, that daisys were her favorite flower, especially when in a blue vase. You doubt they knew that her favorite color was yellow, a golden sort of shade and that she photographed the sunset every place she went. You doubt they knew she hated the rain but loved the cloudy intervals in between.
You doubt they knew all the thousands of tiny things that made up her personality.
You should be here. You practiced for so long. Countless hours you spent with only a reflection as a company.
And now you're too late,
But she always said that things are better late than never.
You open your eyes and look out at the crowd. You scan the faces, trying your best to ignore the frantic beating of your heart. You pray they can’t hear it. Slowly, you look down at her and smile.
“Tthank you, Peggy. Oh ggod thank you.” Your voice cracks, you pause, taking a deep breath. You look down at the notebook and read.
*Draw out the first syllable.*
*Focus on the phrase, not the word.*
*Don’t think too hard about it.*
*You’re so close.*
You look back up at the crowd.
“I would have died without you, become a shell. I lived for you, my darling, for your smile. You didn’t know much about me but I knew everything about you. I would have become anything for you. I love you, oh by God how I love you. Thank you for everything, I’m finally enough. May you rest in peace.”
You look down at her still body and shudder. You could have sworn you saw her smile.