Trigger warning: suicide.
Johnny left to pick up Bailey and Mars at 3:30. I knew he’d probably stop by the band room while he was there, just to check on things. Gracie’s bus pulled up in front of the house fifteen minutes later. She ran up the hill with her backpack slipping off her arms, a crumpled piece of artwork in her hand, and a smile on that adorable face. I hugged her a little too hard, breathing in the faint smell of dirt and cookies. She leaned back and put her hand on my forehead.
Trigger warning: suicide
When we got home, Johnny told me he was taking the rest of the day off. He didn’t stay away from the band room unless it was an emergency and his idea of an emergency was loss of limb. Potential loss of wife must have counted too. “Beth, I want you to sit here while I get a spot made for you on the couch.” He pointed to a chair. As soon as I sat down, our barking dogs, Felix and Luca, mauled me with puppy kisses, whines, and nuzzles.
Johnny went to gather blankets and pillows from our bed which was tucked behind the bookcases in the great room. Last week’s cough wracked through me accompanied by a sharp pain in my chest. “It’s alright,” Johnny called out to me. “We’ll get you medicated and settled. I’ll call the doctor after I check in with Tasha’s mom about the girls. Oh, you have to take your morning meds too.”
I knew it was there. I’d seen streaks of it five years ago when I was still embracing my natural brown hair color and a perm. Judge me for the perm, but I truly wanted to look like Beyonce and curls was as close as I was going to get. Back then, the pops of silver seemed innocuous enough, a sweet celebration of the passage of time…
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Trigger warning: suicide
The next morning, the sun rose over All Saints’ Day. This was no longer a dimly lit room for convalescents. Although, I’d never been incarcerated, the place felt like a prison cell. I was locked up, abandoned by dead grandmothers and trapped with a grumpy husband. I’d suffered the indignity of relieving myself in a bedpan. Twice.
I only knew the sun was shining right then, because it was the end of the night shift. Nurse Evelyn came in to tell me fare thee well. She didn’t say it exactly like that. What she said was, “I’m leaving now, Miss Beth. Don’t cuss anybody out today!” I almost told her to go fuck herself, but I didn’t know if she’d get the joke. I wasn’t willing to risk it. She had absolute authority over the bedpan.
Johnny and I were starting to feel our close quarters around seven o’clock. I started coughing every few minutes, a deep cough I’d had off and on for weeks now. The pain in my chest was still intense and sharp. That’s when the happiest man who ever lived walked through the door.