Julia laid out the soft plaid blanket, sewn by her own hands. She had pricked herself many times as thoughts of Rome flooded her mind, but she did not care. She took out some fresh bread from the nearby bakery, a plum tart, and Rome's favorite: strawberries. She sat daintily on the blanket, careful not to wrinkle her new dress. It had cost her a month's worth of wages, but it was the only garment of clothing she had that was not stained or torn.
To distract her thoughts from roaming further, as they often did, she started organizing the utensils when she heard someone approaching. She smiled as she heard the limp of a walk that belonged to only one person she knew: Rome.
"Good morning," said Rome, taking his place across from her.
"Good morning," said Julia, her heart fluttering.
"I apologize for being late," he said as he gently grabbed her hand and kissed it. "I had just received a new leg from the doctor."
"I was wondering why your walk sounded so different," she said. "May I?"
"Of course," he said, "you need not to ask."
Julia reached out towards his right leg, fingering the metal and springs, getting an idea of what it looked like. When she was satisfied, she pulled her hand back and smiled.
"That doctor certainly has improved it," she said.
"Yes," Rome replied as he started removing some roast duck from his own basket. "He is a working a century ahead of us, it seems." He smiled as he spotted the juicy, red fruits laid beside Julia. "I see you have not forgotten the strawberries."
"Of course I haven't," she replied, grabbing some strawberries and handing one to Rome.
"I have something for you," said Rome, pulling out a small velvet box. He placed it on her lap and smiled as she began to open it.
"Nacional Chocolate!" she gasped. "How did you..."
Rome grinned. "I mustn't give out all my secrets, now. There's something else in there as well."
Julia's fingers roamed the box until she felt a cool metal chain. She pulled it out and fingered the pendant. She stopped, recognizing the swirled rose and small jewel in the center.
"It can't be..." she whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Rome grabbed her hand and kissed it, a smile on his lips.
"How did you find my mother's necklace?" she asked, her voice trembling.
"I found the person it was traded to by your aunt," he said.
"It must have cost a fortune," she exclaimed. "You didn't have to do this for me," she said, running her fingers along the swirl as she used to when she was little.
He grabbed the necklace from her and clasped it around her neck.
"Oh, but I did," he said. "How could I have done anything else for the love of my life?"
Rome knocked softly on the hospital door, anxiously waiting. The doctor opened the door and stepped outside.
"I am sorry," the doctor whispered, not wanting others to hear. "There is nothing else even I can do to help her."
Tears streamed down Rome's cheeks, sobs threatening to burst out of his lungs, but he had to be strong. She had to see him strong during their final moments together.
"May I come in?" Rome asked, willing his voice not to break.
The doctor nodded, opening the door wider for him to step inside. Rome's breath was caught in his throat in the hopeless position he saw his wife in. Her face, usually blushing and full of life, was now almost as white as her bed sheet. Her thick, black hair laid limp and loose, not in her usual braid. She opened her eyes as he walked into the room, hearing his footsteps.
"Rome," she whispered, a small smile forming on her pale face. "Where are the children?"
"They are with Vivian," he answered, kneeling down beside her.
"She was always a good friend," she said, reaching her hand towards his face. She fingered his sharp nose, and high cheekbones, making her way down to his lips, ingraining the memory in her brain, holding on to them for as long as she can.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, dropping her hand onto his.
"No, it is not your fault," he said, kissing her hand.
Julia took a deep, shuddery breath. His heart raced, knowing her time was near.
"I asked the doctor to organize a little surprise for you," he said. The doctor walked in, carrying a small machine that linked to a headset. Rome held Julia's hand as the doctor attached the wires to her head. He grabbed the small framed photo Rome had given to him and covered it with a white cloth, which had other wires attached to it as well.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
She nodded slowly, as if using all of her strength to do so.
The doctor flipped a switch on his machine, holding his breath, hoping it would work.
"I... I can see!" she exclaimed. Her faded eyes seemed to stare off into space, but he knew that she was 'looking' at the photo he gave to the doctor, the one of their family.
"It's you! And Lily! And Aurora, and Jack, and... me!"
Rome smiled, happy that his wife could finally see, even if it was for a few short moments. Tears started streaming down her cheeks as she pointed out little featured she could never see before.
"I never knew you had brown hair," she said. "I always thought it was blonde."
Rome laughed, something he hadn't done since they first had to run for the doctor 2 weeks ago.
"Thank you," she whispered, fingering her rose necklace.
"I love you, Julia," said Rome, wishing this moment could last forever.
"I love you too," Julia whispered, as her eyes fluttered shut. She had a smile on her lips as her breathing slowed to a stop, happier than she had ever been in her entire life...