Dasha stands in the doorway of the dimly lit hospital room. The heart monitor beeps and an IV drips pain medication into an arm that used to be so muscular. So strong. There he is, her lost love, Mason. Sickness has ravaged his body, yet she still sees the young man he used to be. The one she fell for when she was a girl. How she’s missed those strong arms around her and the way he kissed her tenderly on the temple. Mason could always make her feel special.
She walks to the edge of the bed and gently caresses Mason’s liver spotted hand. He stirs and his eyes flutter open. Her heart flits and then resumes its regular rhythm. Mason’s eyes are still the same. A vibrant blue that used to make her weak in the knees. Mason smiles and turns his hand over to squeeze hers. It is warm, though a little rough with age.
“Why, hello there,” he croaks.
“Hello back at ya, my handsome devil,” she responds.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“For what? Because you’re dying? It’s all a part of life. Dasha replies, “not to worry, we’ll find each other sooner in the next life. We’ll love each other there.”
She reaches out and strokes his cheek. Mason leans into the softness of it and feels an intense familiarity, even though they haven’t touched each other in 45 years.
“Know that I would have loved you if I could.”
“Oh honey, we weren’t supposed to, but I’m here now. We’ll catch up while we can. Tell me about your life.”
“Promise to tell me about yours?”, he queries.
“Whatever you want to know, I will be glad to share,” she affirms.
Their conversation progresses and never lags. There are no awkward silences or pregnant pauses. It is merely two old lovers bringing each other up to date. Dasha’s heart swells as Mason speaks fondly of his family. She speaks well of hers, as she crawls up onto the left side of his bed and rests her body against his. She lays her arm across his chest and rubs it gently. Taking special care, knowing that the cancer he has leaves him in constant pain. As he continues to speak, he puts his arm around her and thinks, this is how it should have always been for the two of them.
Mason voices, “I should have loved you. We were meant to be.”
Dasha looks up at him and replies, “No honey, we were meant to land exactly where we did. We were meant to be lovers and parents. But we weren’t meant to be. We reconnected now for a reason. I knew you were sick and I had to come see you. To hold you and feel your touch. I can’t heal you anymore like I did when we were young. It’s time for you to move on. When it’s my time to die though, I will find you and we will be together, forever.”
Mason begins to cry, and she wipes his tears. Dasha doesn’t know if it’s from pain of illness or the ache in his heart. She knows even in his weakened state, he’ll never admit to sadness or physical pain.
“Honey, please don’t cry. You’ll get all stuffed up, your face will swell and I’ll have to tell you that you’re ugly,’ she teases.
“You know you would never call me ugly, because I’m still your blue eyed devil,” he retorts.
“I called you that when we were teenagers and that was a long damn time ago,” she chides.
He gives her an angelic grin and asks, “what the hell happened? Why didn’t we stay together?”
“You weren’t ready for me, and your adult life began before mine. I wasn’t ready to be with you anyway. I needed stability and security because I’d been hurt enough. Not only by you. There were many others that hurt me. I ended up falling in love with a wonderful man and believe me, we were happy. Our life was a grand adventure, and I’ll never take it back. As you’ll never take back your past; your adventure.”
Mason asks, “Can you ever forgive me for breaking your heart?”
Dasha confirms, “Oh Honey, I forgave you a long time ago. It wasn’t your fault or mine. We were young and stupid.”
“Will you stay with me till the end Love?”
“There is no other place that I would rather be. I’m going to stay here and hold you. Relax those worry lines on your forehead. If you need water or ice chips, I’ll get those for you too. I’ll make sure that pain medication is administered at the right time. I will stay until your last breath is exhaled and your body is at peace. Until your skin cools and we say prayers over you. I will make sure to honor your final wishes for our spouses have passed on before us, and all we have are our children. So yes, I promise to stay.”
Annie, the young nurse on duty walks in on the old couple and she swears Mason looks better than he has in weeks. She’s convinced it’s because of his visitor.
He looks at her and inquires, “What do you want now?”
“Just a blood pressure and temperature check is all,” she says.
“I don’t know why you care since all I’m doing is lying here, dying, ” he responds bitterly.
“Oh Mason, don’t get cranky,” the nurse chides.
Dasha looks at Mason and says, “enough my sweet, give her what she needs.”
As the nurse takes his vitals, Dasha continues to rub Mason’s chest. It took many years for them to come back to each other and she’s not moving, for anything or anyone. Soon Annie takes her leave and closes the door quietly behind her. She stands holding the handle for a moment to clear the lump in her throat and wipe the tears from her eyes. After she composes herself, she continues onto the next patient’s room with a plan to call her husband as soon as she’s finished.
“Are you in pain Mason?”
Dasha leans back, looks into his eyes and queries, “do you need me to move out of your bed?”
“Absolutely not,” he says as he wraps his arm more tightly around her.
Mason presses the button on the pain pump attached to the IV. Dilaudid quickly courses through his bloodstream. He places the push-button control on the table next to the bed and puts the back of his hand to Dasha’s cheek. They lay there in the quiet and stare into each others eyes. Soon, his lids grow heavy from medication and Dasha reaches up with her right hand to close them. Mason’s breathing becomes even. He snores quietly. She snuggles in tighter to his cancer ravaged body. Knowing that their days are numbered, she already misses his warmth. Dasha falls asleep next to her blue-eyed devil knowing that she is finally where she’s supposed to be, and so is he. For they have always been trying to find their way home.