When you find yourself watching someone you love disappear, knowing there's not a thing you can do, nothing is important any more. Everything seems insignificant in contrast but you continue even if the only thing you want to do is shut out the world. I would've loved to turn the other way and put it off as just another bump in the road. It would've so easy, but to turn my back on her would mean betraying everything I know.
Charlie had become my life. She means more to me than anyone could begin to imagine and now I had to watch her waste away. All I could do was hold her hand and tell her how much I loved her, hoping by chance she'd be able to hear my words. Never knowing for sure.
I reached out and gently intertwined her lifeless fingers with mine swallowing the lump in my throat. I've tried to stay strong. I tried, but I couldn't help myself. I couldn't stop thinking about her and each time I do I'll break down. Her kiss. Her voice. Things I knew I'll never know again.
"I've told you this a million times but I'm going to tell you it a million more so you'll never doubt it," I said. I stood and leaned down letting my lips graze her forehead. "I love you Charlie."
I felt tears run down my cheeks, not caring if anybody saw me. Taking a deep breath I looked down at her to find tiny droplets trailing down her ghostly pale face, making it look like she had been crying but I knew she hadn't. They were mine.
"I wish you could hear me," I murmured, wiping the wetness away with my fingers.
In a moment of weakness I found myself unable to take it any more. It was killing me. She was so close and yet so far away. Wearily I backed away, running a hand through my messy hair before walking out of the room. I couldn't lose it in front of her, whether she'd be able to hear me or not. I leaned against the wall. After a moment I dragged myself over to the coffee machine, desperately needing the caffeine to keep me going.
What should've been a two-minute trip became much longer. I know this sounds bad but I didn't want to go back in there. It was just too hard. I've spent so many days by her side, so many days just watching and it never got any easier. I closed my eyes and fell back against the wall again unable to find the strength to stand. Everything around me seemed to have become nothing but a blur, the sounds barely even registering in my mind. Maybe it was just the fatigue finally taking its toll but I knew it wasn't. It was the fact that any day now she could slip away and leave me forever. I felt like a part of me was dying. I felt like I was losing half of myself.
There was a sudden rush and it was only barely I heard the sound of heavy footsteps. Turning I saw a few nurses racing my way. With bated breath I watched them, feeling as if I was going to be sick. My worst fears were confirmed when I saw them going into the room I had been in only seconds ago before an announcement for my father was sent over the speakers. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. All I could do was stand there, staring at the closed door.
My father didn't notice me as he rushed by. He just quickly went into her room giving me a glimpse inside of the two nurses trying desperately to revive her. The few minutes that flew by felt like hours and I didn't dare move from my spot. I didn't have to. The door creaked opened and my father walked out, his head bowed low. When he finally lifted his eyes he immediately spotted me. No words were exchanged but I knew instantly what had happened. Before he could say a word I dashed out of there, not sure where I was headed. I soon found myself outside.
Bent over my knees I felt like my lungs were going to burst. My stomach churned and what little I've eaten emptied onto the gardens. Not caring about the bile taste in my mouth I broke down on the path, the tears flowing uncontrollably down my cheeks. I slammed my fist into the hard concrete. The pain that shot through my arm nothing compared to the one eating at my soul. I just lost the woman I loved and I wasn't even there for her. Like the coward I was I ran away leaving her to die alone in the hospital bed. I left her.
* * *
The thunder roared as another strike of lightning lit the dark heavens momentarily bathing my room with light. I stared up at the ceiling, my eyes unblinking. Sleep had long ago become foreign to me, more now than ever. Weeks after that fateful day at the hospital, the day I lost her.
I closed my eyes and as the lightning flashed once more I heard a soft knock on my door. I quickly sat up as it creaked open, half expecting it to be Charlie.
"Shawn," Winston called, his tiny form outlined by what little light there was.
I reached for the lamp and turned it on. I watched as the little boy ran to my bed closing the door behind him. I tried to smile but it was a strain to do so.
"I couldn't sleep." He jumped onto the bed before setting the square tin in his arms down. He looked up at me and said, "These are Charlie's treasures."
I looked down at it feeling a stab to my heart at the mention of her name. I watched as he took of the lid, my eyes running over the little bit and pieces scattered in the box. I picked up a small photo. Amazingly it was one of her and me as kids, one I never remembered being taken. Wrapped in my arms was a six-year-old Charlie who was trying desperately not to cry.
He handed an envelope to me. Without question I took it, my eyes running over the name scrawled messily on the front. Shawn. I took a deep breath before ripping it open.
If you're reading this I guess I'm no longer with you. I hope I get the strength to tell you everything I wanted, but just in case I wrote this so at least you'll know. I want you to know how I feel and most of all how much you mean to me.
I wish things didn't have to be this way. I wish I could be with you but since I can't I hope one day you'll be able to find someone who'd make you as happy as you've made me. You don't know how much I wanted to be that girl, the one you'll fall head over heels for, the one who you can't stop thinking about. Maybe even the one you'll marry. I guess it wasn't meant to be.
I'm not sure how it happened but somehow I fell for you. At the time it felt like the most far-fetched thing in the world and even I couldn't believe it, but the way I feel whenever you're around tells me all I needed to know. Suddenly all the little things weren't so little any more. I've never realized until now that every single memory I have of ever being happy all have one thing in common. You.
It was you who helped me get through what was probably the toughest period of my life. You were my light, my heart, my soul and my guardian angel. I guess now it's my turn to be yours.
I love you Shawn.
The piece of paper fell out of my hands and I felt my eyes beginning to water. I knew she had written this before the play, before the revelation that the feelings were reciprocated. I guess she forgot, but despite the fact things had changed quite a lot since then, I found myself glad that Win hadn't.
"She'd always be watching over us," Winston said, he too trying to hold back the tears. "She once told me that when people die they become angels and that I'll never lose anyone because they'll always be looking out for me from heaven. All I need to do is look in me and I'll find them."
I smiled and pulled the little boy to me in a hug. He was right. I still had her. In my dreams, memories and heart. I will always love her, remember her and cherish every moment we shared because that's all I have. It may not be enough or ever come close but it was better than nothing. It's better than never knowing her at all. Apart of loving is also losing, but I haven't lost. Charlie would always be mine. In life or death because I know her love will always belong to me.