We Said Goodbye in a Hospital Room

Submitted into Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with two characters saying goodbye.... view prompt



We said goodbye in a hospital room, with the ever slowing beeps of the heart monitor. We held hands as we have done for over fifty years, and then he left. Holding my hand and smiling at me one moment, still and lifeless the next. 

The tears I had held for so long started to spill, slowly dripping to our hands, still wrapped around each other. They are old hands, knobby with arthritis, marred with patches of blue-purple, but they are our hands. Hands that have belonged to each other since we met all those years ago. 

It had been at a carnival, I was seventeen, he was eighteen. He was a local boy, and I was visiting family for the summer. We spent the night together, laughing at vain attempts to win stuffed animals, escaping behind a tent to snatch a kiss, and tentatively holding hands for the first time. 

We spent the summer together, any other commitments forgotten in the haze of each other’s company. He proposed a three years later, after securing a job that would ensure he could ‘give me the life I deserved’. 

We spent a year lost in our love with each other, then the second World War started. When we got the envelope in the mail we held each other, then all too soon he had to leave. I smiled and kissed him goodbye waving cheerfully, trying not to let the tears fall until he couldn’t see. Then, when I got to our empty house, I cried. For hours, until I forced myself to stop. Forced myself to move on, and believe that he would come home because it was all I could do.

Weeks turned into months, months into years. Somewhere in his absence, I got a job as a factory worker. I made ammunition for the war effort. I may have even had a hand in making one of the bullets he fired. To this day, it still sends shivers down my spine, but it had to be done, and I needed a job, so I aided in helping young boys kill other young boys. 

Three months before he was to come home, I got a letter. He, and his entire unit, were labeled as MIA. For weeks I walked about in a daze, unsure if it was better to be uncertain, or know for sure if he was dead. I lived in a balance of hope and despair until six months later I got another letter saying that he had been found, and was coming home. 

We never talked about what happened. For years he would wake from nightmares terrified of demons from his past, yet he never told me anything about those six months he was gone.

After his return, our life found a new sort of normalcy. He returned to his job, his employers desperate for workers given the lack of young men, and I continued my work at the factory. 

It bothered him that I was working. We fought about it sometimes, but I always won. We needed to keep bread on the table after all.

In a year, we had our first child. A boy who grew so fast that when we had his sister three years later, he was able to call her, “purple monster.”

The children grew, and eventually, they went off to college and started lives of their own, leaving us behind. It was certainly joyous, but we missed the years they were solely ours. 

To fill the void left by our children, we went on adventures. Still young in heart, we set off across the country, in our brand new Volkswagon Van. We left our comfy New England home and saw the sights we always wished to visit. 

We spent years on the road together, camping when we could, sleeping in the van when we could not. Through it all, we fell more and more in love. 

Somewhere in our travels, we saw our children get married. Our handsome son gave us two beautiful twin girls and our wonderful daughter two boys and one girl over the years. Of course, we spoiled our grandchildren rotten, bringing them on trips every summer, taking them to our favorite places. Then they grew up moved on to start families of their own, and it was just us again. 

We settled down, our kindred spirits still strong, but kept in check by our aging bodies. Another year went by, and while I was out getting groceries, he had a heart attack. I found him on the kitchen floor, barely conscious. I held his hand, telling him how much I loved him as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. 

Then we said our final goodbye. His smile still on his face even in death. The flat long beep from the monitor ringing in my ears. It stopped, suddenly, as a nurse quietly unplugged the machine.

In the coming week our children, and their children, and even their children’s children, came to the funeral. When it was over, I went home to our house. Our empty quiet house and I sat at our empty table, in our empty kitchen. Our children had left, returning to their lives, and I was left with nothing more than an abundance of flowers and mountains of letters of condolence. 

But above all, I was alone. For the first time in over fifty years, there was no we no our. I was in my house, sitting in my kitchen, grieving over the loss of the love of my life. 

I do not understand why, but I found myself reaching for paper and pencil. I found myself longing to tell our story, so it will no be lost in my memory. So I can ensure that our children can read the story of a real true love story. 

My thoughts were jumbled as I tried to string our wonderful truths into a coherent tale. After many failed beginnings, I simply write, “We said goodbye in a hospital room.”

June 02, 2020 14:08

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Vrishni Maharaj
15:32 Jun 02, 2020

Powerful ending! Good job on this :)


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05:03 Sep 25, 2020

Hey, Mary would you be kind to watch the first video it's on Harry potter. https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for asking your time, This my first time to edit video


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13:28 Jul 28, 2020

Terrific job! Loved the ending. 😄😄😄 Keep it up, Mary! ~Aerin! 🌈🌈🌈 (P. S. Would you mind checking out my most recent story, “Tales Of Walmart”? If so, thank you so much!)


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