"Do you recall the very first time we met one another?" She wondered, looking up at him weakly, little stars dazzling before her eyes. The innumerous constant beeping noises around her made Kate feel as if something inside her head soon was going to explode – or maybe already had. Harvey was here now, though. She ignored all the discomfort and tried to smile up at him as he lovingly held her hand. He had gotten more wrinkly than the day that the two of them met. He had gotten old. So had she as well, though, for she wouldn't have been lying there in that abnormally white environment if she hadn't. It mostly resembled a hospital. It even smelled like one.
Kate seemed to have gotten less wrinkly than him, but her not so young body seemed to have had more trouble with aging. Harvey and she had met at a moment in both their lives when the need to settle down had replaced the need to experiment and live wild. And today, after thirty-two years together with him, she could truthfully say that meeting him and giving him her trust and love must have been the best thing ever happened to her.
Kate was about to be seventy-nine in December. Harvey had already swiftly passed ninety, but even though all of the hair that he still had left, had slowly gotten white and even though most of his skin had loosened more in wrinkles than before, he still hadn't lost his humor, nor his always good health. She had, and thus as a consequence they had both been forced into the local care center to mainly await the end of her days together. Maybe that sounded quite cruel, but it wasn't any less true. He couldn't take care of her.
She would go before him. Kate could feel herself getting more unable to hold onto life each day; she could feel herself slip away. Harvey often enough told her that before she even realized, she would find herself cured, and would oh so easily reach hundred-fifty. She couldn't believe him on that, for she felt herself nearing the white, bright light more each day. It called for her, and she well understood that it wouldn't just let her go, but that it would call louder until she had joined it in the life after death. Kate had thought about life and death, and possible life after death very often. It had intrigued her in a way.
Would you really quit thinking when you died? Would you be able to understand that you were no longer alive? Would you remember who you loved, and who loved you back in life? Would you really go to Heaven if you had been good, and instead go to Hell if you hadn't, like some thought to be true? Would you return in another form? Would you realize having lived already? Would you recall anything from that other life you had lead, but lost? Would anyone recall her after dying? Would her name still live after hundred years? Kate often thought about it, and at some moments, thinking and not understanding could make her start crying in frustration. It might seem really odd, but if she really started thinking about it so intensely, especially now she felt Death's breathing upon her. Death be not proud, though some have called thee, Kate often recited within herself; first line of one of the many metaphysical poems of John Donne. She must have heard it at least once in English Literature lectures, of which she had actually followed quite a lot. She couldn't rightly attribute either time or environment with it anymore, but found herself repeating it within nevertheless. Yet she never told him about it, or Susan, who often came to visit them both: her old white haired father and her, Harvey's second spouse. She never told Elinor either… their daughter and only child.
The now old couple had gotten little Elinor when she had turned forty-three, fulfilling Kate's deepest wishes. She would no longer have to worry about that baby she hadn't had, when Elinor had come along. She would no longer have to guess about whether a child of hers would be funny or smart. Elinor had soon shown to be both, the obvious funny part most likely inherited from her father's side. And the smart part could have well come from both.
Elinor's parents had tried for another child soon. Kate had found herself pregnant again when she had been just a few months old, but it had ended in miscarriage at eleven weeks. Harvey and she had tried again, but success hadn't occurred, and then menopause had come along at forty-six, confirming that Elinor would remain alone. Another child would have been very welcome, but that didn't mean that Harvey Shine's family would always feel unhappy and incomplete.
"How could I forget, ever?" Harvey's voice sounded. "I recall being very rude."
She chuckled weakly, numerous plastic tubes running to and away from her preventing Kate from doing anything that included much movement or effort. Gentle raps came to the chalky white bedroom – by lack of another fitting word – door, and both seniors could hear their daughter's voice in the hallway. She soon walked in with little Whyatt half asleep on one hip, Arthur almost immediately running towards their grandfather and jumping on his lap, followed by twin sister Arielle. Kate secretly suspected Elinor having told both twins to please save their grandmother, who was so ill.
Elinor swiftly leaned down to peck her father's forehead, then moved towards the bed to greet her mother. Kate smiled calmly, seeing Wyatt now completely asleep on his mother's shoulder. "How are you doing, Mama?" Elinor questioned, looking at the number of tubes suspiciously. Each time she visited, there seemed to be more.
"I'm fine, Ellie."
"Isn't Howard with you?" Harvey suddenly questioned, looking up at his daughter.
Elinor's head shook in denial. "No. He would have surely liked to, but a Bob from work called him this morning. Apparently, Howard had to go immediately to solve some unforeseen trouble," she said, privately rolling her eyes. "He does give you both his best, though."
Kate of course enjoyed the visits of her daughter and grandchildren especially, but each time that Ellie and offspring left, she felt relieved as well. Kate slowly started feeling more exhausted after each visit, all hyperactivity bouncing off her granddaughter and grandsons – in particularly Arielle's twin – seeming to moderately decrease her well-being. Today hadn't been different at all.
Harvey concernedly eyed her. Kate's breathing seemed to be more labored than usual. She hadn't really opened her eyes since they had fallen shut just a couple of minutes after Elinor had left. He understood. He tried hard to make her happy every day again, just like in the beginning of their marriage. It had surely become a bit harder now, though… and he truly understood how weak she had slowly become, and how the more harder Kate had to fight every single day again just to live; something that appeared so simple and even unconscious for others. She would quit breathing soon. Both Kate and he understood.
He quietly looked at her frail, blank hand. It felt rather cold to him – much colder than usual. Kate's raspy breathing sounds slowly died away. Harvey looked up to see her eyelids flutter, then still. She must have left the living to go where he couldn't find her. His own brown eyes batted down without a word, and Harvey tenderly stroked her cold, lifeless hand against his cheek one last time, tears rolling down his cheek. "I truly hope angels may sing you to eternal rest," he whispered.
Without Kate, Harvey's tenacity to live had been drained. No food still appeared to have taste at all. No happiness would come across his lips anymore or shine within his eyes, until joining her in Heaven three days later, where no single sign of senescence would bother them anymore; where nothing could take them both so far away from one other ever again.