By: Valeriya Ponomar
I was running through the dark streets, barely seeing where I was going. The cold air was practically choking me while I breathed. I knew that I might not be on time but I also knew that if I didn’t try and get there, that I would be haunted of the memory forever.
The man I loved needed me. I had received a call that he was going into cardio arrest and this might be the last day his heart beats. At first I thought they were joking—but when they put Damen on the phone I knew that they were right. I barely recognized his voice, as if he had drunk too much Cough Syrup.
I was about to ask him if he was okay when suddenly he screamed dropping the phone. No one bothered to pick it up, so I could hear their voices in the background, shouting orders. Ever since that phone call my heart has been tearing little by little, wondering, hoping, praying, that he’ll live through this.
After my feet had numbed and grown blisters I saw the Saint Merry Hospital a few yards away.
Barely slowing down, I slammed through the glass door snapping my wrist.
The hospital smelled like medicine and hand sanitizer, and was one of the reasons I hated hospitals. The white walls, plain floors, and meaningless expressions wore your heart down. As if the whole building says “Next patient is ready to die now”.
I jogged up to the counter trying to catch my breath.
“Where is Damen Carter’s room?” I croaked.
The woman behind the counter keeps clicking the keyboard.
“Excuse me,” I said, with less patience. “Where is Damen Carter’s room?” Holding onto the counter I tried to relax my blistered feet.
The woman didn’t even look up or move.
“Damnit, whatever I’ll find it.” I snapped taking off my flats. If I had to find him then I will.
Darting down the hall I dodged through closing doors and tried to avoid nurses. A few of them ran after me.
“Ma’am you can’t go there without a pass!” they yelled.
“I’ll only be a few minutes!” I called back.
Sadly I didn’t think this through. I didn’t know where his room was and the other bad part was: every room looked alike. It would take me hours to find his room. Trying to remember his room number—I took the elevator to the third floor remembering when Damen mentioned it.
Impatiently I allowed two people join in the elevator, but the other five I told to wait for the next one because I couldn’t waste anymore time. They were annoyed with me but probably the sweaty and frightened look on my face made them understand. The ride up seemed too long and when the doors pushed open I sprinted through the hall trying not to hit a janitor on the way.
What was the room number?? Out of all times I chose now to forget something . . .
Wait….3…4…..I concentrated avoided a collision with a doctor. 347!! I remembered rushing down the correct hallway. Slowly the rooms faded into larger ones and the space between them grew.
“We have to do this!” someone shouted from the far left room.
“We can’t! He asked us not too until she got here!” a woman argued.
That was it. That was the room.
Not caring if he was unconscious or not I burst open the doors and halted after taking a step.
This couldn’t be him. My Damen was beautiful, and colorful….so full of life. This man in his place was white, cold, and maybe even dead. But no, his hair was golden brown, and his sleepy expression reminded me of so many memories.
I squinted away my tears, slowly walking beside his bed.
“Hun?” I whispered, kneeling down. “Hey, its me.”
For a second I thought he might be sleeping but then slowly, a centimeter at a time, he opened his eyes. I stared at the same bright green eyes I could’ve recognized anywhere.
“Hey, you got here?” he whimpered. “I thought you wouldn’t show . . .”
I frowned. “You know me better than that—” I took his hold hand in mine, rubbing some warmth into it, “I will always be there for you..” The pain in his eyes told me everything. His pain is my pain, and at the moment my heart was shattering because even though I kept telling myself everything will be alright, I already knew, nothing was.
His eyes began to close so I took his face with my palm tracing his cold skin.
“Hey, don’t you disappear on me now, these people want to help save you—” A tear ran down my cheek, “and you got to let them, because if you don’t you won’t get better.”
Damen smiled, slowly his eyes half way closed. “I’ve already been saved.” He murmured as if falling asleep. “You’ve saved me Stacey, and I love you more than you know for that.” He raised his arm and brushed away my tears. “I’m going to miss you. . .”
“No, no!” I quietly whispered. “Don’t leave me, please. I need you.” I pleaded keeping myself from screaming. “And you need me.”
But this time he just nestled back into his bed, sighing softly. I smiled tracing his cheek. Besides the cold skin, it was still as soft as lavender. And maybe, just maybe everything would be ok—
Something began to beep rapidly before moaning on, like an endless song.
The nurses rushed in, trying to push me away.
“Get the defibrillator paddles!” One of them shouted dragging me by the arm.
“No, don’t you dare!” I screamed pushing her aside. I ran by his side taking his hand again, but it was colder than last time.
“Do something!” I shouted.
Some men ran in with a paddle machine and charged it.
“Clear.” The paddles were placed on his chest and with a bolt, it jolted electricity into him. The man that held it, shook his head. “Again . . . clear!” and repeated that for three times.
By the time he stopped, the paddles have left burnt marks on Damen’s chest. I was sweating with fear. Tears streaming down my face like an endless river.
“Don’t stop!” I yelled. “What are you waiting for?”
The man looked at me as if saying I’m sorry for your loss. But I didn’t accept it.
With all the strength I had left, I held his face up to mine and kissed him as if my life depended on it. Rapidity praying for a miracle. Please don’t leave me I begged inside my soul. I love you too much, you can’t leave me . . . not now.
But the face I held was not from the man I loved, but the man I lost.
My soul began to shred. Tearing my limbs and mind and heart along with it. Breaking every bone I had and every dream I’ve owned. If there was no Damen, how could there possibly be me?
The months flew by faster than I imagined they would. My endless depression dragged me to bed every time I remembered him. Our room was filled with our endless memories, of our endless love that seemed to have survived everything. Almost everything.
I couldn’t eat, or sleep even though exhaustion was always inside me. But the pain in my dreams would make me scream at night, and cry endless tears in the morning. I avoided sleep for a week before finally giving up.
The light was blinding. As if someone was pointing a flashlight right into my eyes. I felt light, and strangely happy that I must have imagined the painful memories as hallucinations. As soon as my eyes adjusted I gasped in shock at what I was looking at.
The white swirling clouds enveloped me with such gentleness I would have thought they were holding me up. The sky was baby blue, and just beyond something caught my eye. Something shimmering gold, something strangely familiar.
Instead of walking my body just floated up higher, toward the sparkling object.
Then I saw it, something I had thought never existed.
A large golden gate scaled miles high, diamonds embedded between the glorious metal. I had an urge to touch it, but pushed it away because someone was walking behind the gate.
Someone with golden hair, and white marbled skin.
“Damen . . .” I breathed. He looked the same as he had in the pictures that I kept. But something was different. It wasn’t the majestic white wings that were sticking out of his back, or the shimmering white clothes he wore, it was more like what his glowing eyes said. I could tell he was at peace, and more than happy to see me.
“Stacey,” he said, his voice ringing like music. “I thought you’d never come.” Damen approached the gate but didn’t open it, instead walked right through.
I found my feet and ran into his warm arms. “I missed you so much!” I bellowed, starting to cry.
The soft tingling sensation crept into my bones, healing pain, healing suffering—in its place, love and affection. Is this what it felt like to be in Heaven?
“Am I dead?” I asked quietly. Unable to stop staring in his eyes.
He traced my jaw lightly. “No dear, I’m here to deliver a message.”
I shook my head. “From who?”
He chuckled kissing my forehead. “From me.”
“What do you mean?”
Damen pulled away. His eyes serious.
“What have you been doing to yourself?” he asked, his voice on edge.
“What are you talking about?”
He inspected my weak and frail body. “Why have you stopped eating? And sleeping?”
I felt my face flush. I tried to hug him again but he drifted away too fast.
“Stop it Stacey, you know that this is wrong!” he noted tensing his muscles. “You have to let me go. I’m not coming back. You know that.”
His words stung like acid. “How can I let you go?”
Damen came next to me, his hands grasping mine. “I know how hard it is, and trust me, watching you rot away in your bed isn’t easy either. You just need some hope, that’s all.”
Slowly he kissed my lips, brushing away my tears. “I’ve always been with you. Don’t forget my part. I want you to be happy, to experience joy and love again, instead of withering away like prune.”
I stifled a laugh.
He smiled glowing brighter. “I love you, just promise to be careful.”
My voice was about to give in so I just nodded. We stood there hand in hand for a while before he faded from my grasp.