“Mr Whyte, Mr Whyte….”
I stared blankly at the doctor…and dimly heard him calling my name. I could see his mouth moving, and he was saying something to me. Nothing was getting through my foggy mind at that moment. It was as if my soul had shortly left my empty body standing there. Finally, the doctor’s words became audible. He seemed worried by my blank stare. “Mr Whyte, please have a seat”. He guided me down into a chair. “As I said,” he continued, “I would advise you start making burial arrangements. Prognosis wasn’t very good. Your wife has just a couple of weeks”
As I sat there and listened to these words, I was trying desperately to make sense of what the doctor was saying. He was clearly very worried I was going to lose it or something. He sat there patiently waiting for some kind of response from me. “What about the baby?” I asked. “What about our baby girl? While relief was written all over the doctor’s face that I finally talked, he also looked like he had more bad news. “I am very sorry, but she lost the baby when she fell down the stairs”. At this point, a solitary tear crept down my left cheek. I was too numb to do anything more, and my mind switched off. It went to the first day I met her. It was at a cinema. There was a particular movie people had been talking about and how sad and moving it was.
So there I was, at the cinema, watching the movie. True, it was a very sad movie, and I think my vision was getting misty a little, but was trying to make sure no one saw. That was when I heard someone sobbing to my right. I actually hadn’t even noticed the person sitting beside me. Now, just like so many guys, I never know what to do with a crying woman. It just makes us so uncomfortable. While I sat there, wondering if I should do or say something, she glanced up and our eyes met. I knew that day what the word “beauty” actually meant. She had big brown eyes, small nose and high cheekbones. Her hair was dark, shiny and overflowing. “What are you looking at”? She snapped. “Never seen a crying woman before”? The venom in her voice took me aback. While I was stammering and trying to mutter some form of apology, she laughed, revealing a set of even white teeth, and with a twinkle in her eye, she said,” I was just messing with you”. At that very moment, I knew I had fallen in love.
After the movie, we talked, I got her name and her number, and that was it. Five years later, we were married. I remembered our wedding day. As I stood there and watched her walk down the aisle, I literally couldn’t breathe. She looked so beautiful and angelic she took all of my breath away. I was sure I was about to get married to God’s best creation on that day. I remembered we danced to “At Last” by Etta James. She insisted, and there was nothing on this Earth I could ever refuse her. I remembered how, a few months ago, she told me she was about to make me the happiest man on Earth. I instantly knew what she meant, and with tears of joy I went down on my knees and put my head to her stomach. Indeed, that day remains one of the happiest of my life. When we went for a sonogram, and I sat there holding her hand, we were told it’s a girl. She looked at me and said.” Baby, I’m so happy I will soon give you what you have always wanted”. At that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I just thought to myself, You are the luckiest bastard on the face of the Earth.
Then I remembered this morning, when everything changed. I was downstairs, making breakfast. I insisted she was not going to be doing anything anymore. I called out to her that breakfast was ready, and as she started coming down the stairs, she collapsed. My mind snapped back to the present, and the doctor was speaking to me once again. “Would you like to see her?” I nodded, and followed him blindly into her room. I walked in and saw her lying there, connected to different machines, weak, almost entirely devoid of life and my numbness finally dissipated. I burst into tears and ran to her side. She took my hand, and smiled, and told me everything will be fine. She told me to be strong and be happy without her. I was silent all the while. When she was done talking, she looked into my eyes, I looked into hers, and she knew my mind was made up and there was nothing she could do to change it. She made space for me on her bed, and I crawled in next to her, and held her as she went back to sleep.
A few weeks later, there was a burial ceremony at a certain graveyard. There were two graves, side by side. The epitaphs were simple and plain. The first one read: “In memory of Mary Ann Whyte, loving wife and daughter. May 19, 1970 – January 3, 2000”. The second read: “ In memory of Joseph Whyte, loving husband and son. September 10,1965 – January 3, 2000.