By Rachel Tucker
We stood side by side on the upper deck of the small passenger ferry. The November wind whipped my hair around and I shivered in the cold. He placed his hand over mine on the railing and, without turning, asked quietly,
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to go downstairs where it’s warm?
I stared out at the steely water, squinting in the sunlight.
“That’s the whole point,” I told him, touched by his concern but not wanting to move. “Soon, all of this will be gone. I’ll be gone. Don’t you feel it?” I turned to him and searched his face for recognition. Did he really not understand? I saw the small smile and knew. He got it. I continued.
“Breathe in. Smell the salt air. Feel the wind bite at your face. Look up. Watch the birds as the wheel about so effortlessly. This is life. This is how we know that we’re alive.” I shivered as the wind picked up strength and blew across the top of the boat making a bigger mess of my hair. Putting my head back, I held on to the rail and simply allowed the wind to whirl about me, messing my hair, chilling me to the bone and generally letting me know that I was alive. Soon, all too soon, all of this would be gone. All of my favourite things. The water. The blue sky. The birds. The trees on the shore. Gone. Or at least gone for me. He would still be here to see them and I wanted him to realize just what beautiful gifts they were.
Pulling myself upright once more, I saw a look on his face that was at once concerned and happy. He watched as I gazed at the water. I could feel his hand over mine, warming my cold, gloveless one. Finally, he spoke.
“You’re beautiful,” he said softly.
“Thank you for doing this for me today,” I answered, ignoring the compliment.
“I had my doubts,” he admitted with a small smile that reached his eyes.
“If you never do a single kind thing for anyone again in your life, remember this day as the day that you made wishes come true and allowed me to live, even for such a short time.” I sighed as I saw the dock loom and my nurse waiting with a wheelchair. She would not be happy, I knew. I didn’t care. I was chilled to the bone, exhausted and felt more exhilarated than I had felt for longer than I cared to remember. As the ferry pulled into the dock with a bump, I turned to him and said,
“You know that this is good bye?”
“For whatever short time I have left, this, this far too short hour, will live with me and help me face what’s to come. You will always be my knight in shining armour for this,” I told him with a feeble wink.
As he helped me down the wide staircase, toward the waiting nurse and wheelchair, he squeezed my hand and replied softly,
“I’m so very grateful to have had the opportunity to do this for you.”
“You get it?” I asked, searching his face once more for understanding. As the smile on his face grew wider and his eyes danced, I saw what I had been looking for.
“I get it,” he answered, a broad smile wreathing his face. As we walked toward my nurse and the dreaded wheelchair, I was so happy that I never noticed the single tear that slipped down his face.
Rachel Tucker is an avid reader and writer of both poetry and short stories. She loves nature and draws much of her inspiration from there. She loves her ocean home and feels that the ocean connects us all.
One thought on “One Last Hurrah”
Wow, Rachel. That made me cry. You have a way with words and photography. Keep up the great work.