His Favorite Time

I had known since the beginning that it would happen at night, his favorite time. He had always preferred the peace of darkness to the bustle of day. How many times had I woken up to find him still working at his desk? How many times had I left for work in the morning shortly after giving him a good-sleep kiss?

This day had been no different from the ones before–friends coming and going in the small room of the inpatient hospice, my husband sleeping peacefully, morphine flowing under his skin.

I had tucked myself under the bright yellow comforter I’d brought from home to keep me warm, to ward off the cold creeping in from both the outside and the inside. But I still could not sleep. I lay there, listening to his breathing. Nothing was happening, but I was wide awake. When his breaths began to lose their rhythm, I knew the time had come. I called the nurse, who hurriedly told me, “Hold his hand.” I knelt by his bed as a stethoscope registered the last beats of his heart.

I called his sister across the ocean; he had not wanted her to come over. I called my family, across the same ocean; I had asked them not to come over. I called a few friends. We cried together, tried to console each other. I picked two red carnations from the bouquet my students had brought the previous day and put them on his chest, picked a white rose to keep, kissed his forehead one last time, gathered my yellow comforter and left.

Giamila Fantuzzi
Chicago, Illinois


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