It wasn’t the dozens of seagulls on my deck that bothered me. They had grown accustomed to the sweet bread my wife would leave out for them, and I was quite accustomed to their flapping, and squawking, and shitting, but I had no sweet bread to give them, the stove had gone cold a long time ago.. I would have killed to hear the train whistle of a kettle my mother-in-law had given to us, but it sat collecting dust on one of the burners…
It wasn’t the leaky faucet in our guest bathroom that bothered me either, it was the fact that I could hear it from the living room… Each drip echoed through that empty house, like stalactites in a cavern, but with no tour guide to lead you through the darkness, the sound could be a bit eerie..
The same three television shows would play all day, and night. I never bothered to figure out how to work the remote, every time I attempted to change the channel to check the weather, or watch an old western I ended up making the screen brighter, or more colorful, or the shows would go quiet, so I gave up trying; I just watched soap operas on mute and made up my own stories to go along with their silence.
On occasion the smoke detectors would startle me with their chirping, their batteries were dying, but I had no spares, and even if I did I was in no shape to climb up a latter or stand on a chair to change them; knowing my luck I would fall and break another hip, or dislocate another shoulder, but this time there would be no one there to call me an ambulance, no one to find me until groceries were delivered at the end of the week.. So I just let them chirp, they’d stop eventually.
I wasn’t bothered by the bible on my bedside table, bookmarked somewhere in the middle. What bothered me was I could never bring myself to open it, my wife would read a few passages out loud at night while she drank her tea, she always told me I needed God in my life, and I could never argue with her about that, afterall she was a testament to the power of faith. She volunteered in our community, cleaned plastic from the beach, offered free tutoring to children, ladled out soup for the less fortunate, played organ at church on Sundays.. And I sat home watching my old westerns, and filling out crossword puzzles.. The retired life suited me fine, but she just couldn’t sit still, she was compelled to help, and I envied her selflessness..
I didn’t care when the neighborhood kids would throw water balloons at the house, or leave their bikes strewn across the front lawn, or hide in the bushes and wait after ringing the doorbell. What bothered me was that I never even bothered cleaning the busted balloons from the front door, my wife on the other hand would buy a pack of them every time she went shopping, and when the kids launched their watery attack she would soak them all in kind.. She would pick their bikes up off of the grass, set them back on their kickstands, and leave gallon bags filled with her homemade sugar cookies in the baskets.. And she’d answer every time they rang the doorbell, looking around the yard in mock confusion, ignoring the bushes like a parent would ignore their child standing in the corner during hide and seek..
Marge and I never had children of our own, so the neighborhood kids filled that space in her generous heart, she loved when they were around, and they loved her, she’d make birthday cards for them all every year and at the bottom of each one she would sign, Love “Granny”. But there were no more cards, no more cookies, no more water balloon fights.. And what bothered me most, was that they didn’t understand why.. Why their granny couldn’t play anymore, why she had forgotten their birthdays all of a sudden.. And I couldn’t bring myself to tell them the truth, maybe because doing so would mean I’d finally have to admit it to myself.. Marge wasn’t coming back..
So that night, as I sat in that empty, quiet house, I closed my eyes and thought of her, I almost prayed to her, but I didn’t want to talk if I couldn’t hear her reply. I didn’t want to move if not to dance with her again. I couldn’t eat another meal that wasn’t cooked with her love. I couldn’t sleep for fear of seeing her face one more time, just to have it torn from me by the sunrise.. So I just sat, and I listened. Listened to that dripping faucet, and the chirping of smoke detectors; to the buzz of the television, and the creaking of my rocking chair.. And I listened to the ocean, its waves crashing on the empty beach, the winds sweeping across the sands and through our house’s old bones.
That’s when I had my bright idea.. For the first time in a long time I was going to do something.. I stood up, and walked out the backdoor towards that beach, I didn’t bring my coat, or my cane, I just limped my way there, and made my way into the ocean. I didn’t stop until I felt the icy water on my chest.. I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t. The thought of sharks feeding would have deterred me at one point, but it didn’t that night. I was going to see my Marge again.. Even if it was at the bottom of the ocean..
Then.. I woke up in a stranger's arms.. An emergency blanket wrapped around my shivering body.. And they brought me here.. To another lonely room full of beeping and buzzing, and the occasional distant voice.. It’s just like the last time I saw my wife.. She was too weak to say anything, but she didn’t have to, her eyes said it all.. I did hear her voice tonight though, and I saw her smiling face as those waves crashed down on me and took me under, and for that I will always owe the ocean a debt of gratitude, just as I owe my lonely life to the paramedic who restarted my still heart, and to the boys who pulled me from the freezing grips of the sea.. They were the same ones who Marge had loved for all those years, she must have sent them to me.. As I sat with them on the beach wrapped in that blanket I thought of her words to me, our conversation in that place full of light and music.. “We’ll be together again one day.. But until then my love.. Don’t wait alone..”
So yes.. To answer your question officer, I was attempting to take my own life.. I wanted the silence to end.. I wanted to leave that lonely house behind and return to my true home in my Marge’s arms.. But our time will come again.. Until then, all I want now is what she wants for me.. To not be alone.. Is that something you can help me with?.. Please?