A Bunch of Words · Assignments · Creative Responses

The Melody of Her Life

I’ve been tossing and turning about posting this story. If any of my siblings read this, I have taken creative licence with this and I’m sorry if it upsets you at all. I don’t mean it to. but I felt I needed to write this one for the assignment.
For the first assignment of Semester one we had to write a story based off a true story. That’s not normally something I actively do… But this is what I wrote.
My wife stirs slightly in her bed as I start playing the guitar. I’m playing her favourite hymn. The one she’s asked to be played at her funeral. Number 223, Have I Done Any Good? She’s lived her life by that hymn. She has done so much good in the world. But her time is nearly up. Our children have already said their goodbyes and now it’s just me, here by her side.
I don’t know how well our youngest understands what is happening. She probably understands more than I give her credit for but she’s only six. And her mother is dying. I know our four older children understand, but does our youngest?
Jennee has no fear of death. She had told me so before the cancer got this bad. Once she was able to be at home and we could look after her there. But now, that slight stir is a miracle. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to communication in a long time. It was just a stir though. Nothing more.
The doctors say she’s no longer in pain. She’s been in pain for so many years it’s a relief to know that at least now she is kind of peaceful. I play her hymns in hope it makes these last days even more peaceful. I try to pick ones she likes or ones that won’t make me cry too much. I don’t even know if she can hear them, or me, but she looks peaceful.
She’s not really here though. She’s mainly unaware or unconscious. I still won’t leave her. I’ll stay by her side. I’ll stay by my beautiful bride. It’s been over twenty years since she walked down that aisle.  She had longer hair then, now she has short blonde hair. It started growing back after she shaved it all off because of the chemo.
Tears start welling up in my eyes as I finish her hymn and remember her long blonde hair. I loved her blonde hair. Most of our daughters have her hair in one shade or another. Our son has brown hair like me though.
I rest the guitar on my lap and look over at Jennee. A smile spreads over my face as I run my hand through that blonde hair of hers. I swear I can see her nuzzle her head into my hand and look at up at me. I see her blue eyes open and a smile spread over her face. It’s just a memory though. She doesn’t move a single bit. It makes a tear roll down my cheek. There’s still a smile on my lips though.
A sad smile but a smile nonetheless.
“Jennee,” I whisper even though I know she won’t respond. “I don’t know how we’ll get by, me and the kids. You’ve always been my strength. That stubbornness of yours. I know you’d say I was stubborn too but townie stubbornness is nothing compared to the country stubbornness you have,” I pause as I wipe the tears away.
“I grew to love your stubbornness. It scared me at first. You weren’t like the girls I was used to. For a start, I had always asked the girls out.  But you were the one who called me up after that washed out youth camp. How many years ago was that? Kane will be twenty soon so it’s about twenty-one, twenty-two years ago now. Back down in Tassie. Back when you lived in the Huon. You were a true country girl back then.”
“I’ve always wondered; why did you choose me? They always tried to make me feel welcomed but I know they looked at me like they looked at all the townies. I was an outsider. I guess the fact I was good at footy helped a bit. I know it won your father’s approval but I was always an outsider with your siblings. They all married and stayed in the Huon. But here you are married to a boy from Hobart. We’re on the mainland now. Living in Canberra. And I’m a public servant. Very different to the hands on jobs the rest of your family have. We moved to Canberra for you. You wanted to move away from your country upbringing. Is that why you chose me? Because I wasn’t from the country?”
“Either way, I’m grateful I sat next to you on that bus and I’m so flamin’ grateful you called me up later that week. I love you and I’m so lucky you love me. But how am I going to raise four girls without their mother?” the tears come flowing from my eyes and I don’t both trying to hold them back this time. “I’ll try to be like you,” I manage to say through my tears.
No matter what was thrown at her she always did her best to stay strong. To stay positive. To live by her hymn. Even after her chemo therapy she still went out of her way to help others. To be happy and not let the cancer take over her personality like it was taking over her body.
She’s always been strong. Even back when we were teenagers and getting married. Everyone else said it wouldn’t last. That we should give the baby up when it was born. That we were too young to get married. We we’re rather young but we were both determined. We were going to get married and we were going to raise that child together. And we did.
“Mark,” I snap my head towards the doorway where a nurse is standing. “Visiting hours are nearly over,” she says.
“Thanks,” I nod. I wipe the remaining tears from my eyes and kiss Jennee on the cheek. I’m going to miss her. More than anyone will ever know. I’ll ty to hold on to her strength. I know I’m going to need it. I don’t fear death either, but I’m not rushing it. Our kids need me. After all, our youngest is only six.

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