Art by Melissa Mead
Dealing with Death
by Brenta Blevins
It was 2 a.m., a time of day so thin that nothing seemed real. The tubes cycling in and out of my husband like external blood vessels, his monitors' rhythmic beeps of electronic pulses, the ventilator's hiss and sigh, all kept pulling me back to a reality I didn't want to accept. The doctors had told me Robert was "actively dying." Actively dying? What did that mean? Pale, emaciated, and immobile, Robert's coma seemed the antithesis of any action.
His parents and sister hadn't yet arrived. Unable to resign from their jobs as I had mine, they'd given up their constant vigil months ago, so by the bed I sat alone with my husband of twenty years. My continual presence and loving attention hadn't been enough to bring him back to life, to actively living.
I shivered as a chill breeze sighed like the breath of the room leaking out. When shadows dimmed the fluorescent over the hospital bed, I looked around--until I saw Him. A silhouette of gloom, He stretched out a hand dripping shade onto my husband's face.
Death had finally come for Robert.
I jumped up, shoving my hands over Robert's mouth as if I could protect him from the suffocating shadows. "No! Please! Don't!"
Death drew back suddenly. Somewhere in shade coalescing against the wall, I saw the whites of eyes opening wide.
"Please, no," I begged. "I'd--give anything to save Robert."
Finally, He rasped in rumbles and hisses, like wind from a cave, "You must do something for me."