She went into the cabinet and grabbed a mason jar, some paint, brushes, and a marker. She gathered them all onto the middle of the kitchen table along with blank pieces of paper. She proceeded to cut the papers into small hearts and wrote little messages on them. She continued doing this until the jar was full. She sprayed inside the jar with his favorite perfume and closed the top. She painted the glass of the jar with a splatter technique. She would worry about the clean up later. She finished it all up by painting his name on the jar. Cleaned up the mess she had made and waited for him to wake up.
A couple of hours later he came down an apologized to her for his outburst. “I’m sorry about before.” He said to her. “I’m just not feeling too well.”
“Apology accepted.” She replied. “Now come and sit down at the table with me.”
“What’s this?” He asked as he looked at the decorative jar with his name emblazoned on it.
He opened it and a light scent of her perfume hit the air.
“Mmmmmm Lemon Verbeena.”
“Ha ha. Will you just open it already?”
He opened one of the hearts and read it silently to himself, ‘I love you because you protect me’. He continued reading on. ‘I love you because you have a heart of gold, I love you because you hold my hand, I love you because you fix the toothpaste, I love you because you let me comfort you’. “What’s this all about?”
“I just wanted to show you, in a very small way mind you, some of the reasons that I love you.”
“This is really nice. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yes I did. We’re in this together, to the very end. Hash tag Team Us.”
“Really hash tag?”
“What? All the kids do it.”
“We are not kids, old lady.”
“Speak for yourself, old man.”
“I love you. I’m really sorry about before. It’s all very overwhelming sometimes.”
“I know and that’s why I never want you to feel like you’re alone.”
“I know. I’ll try not to. It’s just that I’m looking back on it all and I realized something.”
“I’ve had a good run.”
“Wait. What does that mean, you’ve had a good run?”
“It means that one of these days I’m going to have a real heart attack and won’t be able to differentiate between it and a panic attack.”
“Stop saying things like that.”
“It’s okay. I’m not afraid to die.”
“I just stopped crying. You’re going to make me start all over again.”
“That’s not my intention. I don’t want you to get upset.”
“I don’t want you thinking that. Please don’t say stuff like that anymore. All the men in my life have died; my father, my brother. I don’t want anything happening to you. Please see a doctor.”
“Okay I will.”
“Do you promise me?”
“Yes I promise you.” He lied. “I just need you to do one thing for me.”
“What is it?” She asked.
“Can you make more hearts for me?”
“Yes really. I think this is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me. You can even lie on some of them if you want. I won’t care.”
“Yes, I will make more hearts for you and no, I will not lie on them.”
“One question though.”
“You love that I fix the toothpaste?”
“Yeah, I squeeze from the middle so it always looks like the toothpaste got Hulk-smashed. You fix it so it doesn’t look that way.”
“Well you know you can just squeeze from the bottom and we can cut out the middle man.”
“Squeeze from the bottom? You’re so pretty.”
“Yeah yeah. Come with me.”
“Where we going?”
“Upstairs. It’s ‘frisky business’ time.”
“You really gotta stop stealing all my lines.”
She stopped scrubbing at the couch and jolted up towards the cabinet drawer. She had forgotten all about the glass jar that she made him and wanted to see if it was still there. It was. Lying underneath old magazines. She opened it up and a very faint smell of her perfume was still on the papers. She went to go read one when there was a knock on the door.
She answered the door not realizing she still had the jar in her hand. It was Reverend Fletcher from the church. They exchanged salutations and she invited him in. She showed him to a seat at the dining room table. She placed the jar she was holding back onto the table.
“I just wanted to check up on you and see how you’re doing.” The Reverend said.
“Thank you. It’s a rough go, but I’m doing okay, all things considered.” She replied.
“It’s not going to be easy but you have a great support system that you can lean on. You have me, your family, and all your friends that will help you through this terrible time.”
“I appreciate that. It’s just all so overwhelming. There’s so much to do.”
“If you need any help please don’t hesitate to ask. ”
“I don’t even know where to start.”
The reverend looks over at the couch in the living room noticing the stains. “You know, a donation came into the church. We can get rid of that couch for you and replace it. I can have someone deliver it this afternoon.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she said, “That couch was the first thing we bought together when he moved in. It’s going to be really hard to let it go.”
“I know but trust me keeping it can only do more harm than good.”
“What do you mean?”
“Even if you can get the blood stains out, it’s going to be a constant reminder to you of the last time you saw him sitting there and what he did to himself. That’s something you shouldn’t have to endure day in and day out. You need to remember him during the good times.”
“I know it’s just hard.”
“It’s not going to be easy.” He glances at her “What’s that jar you have there?”
“This is something that I made for him. It’s little paper hearts with reasons I love him.”
“That is what you should keep. Not the couch.”
“Maybe you’re right. Let me ask you something. Where is he now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is he burning in hell? Will God ever forgive him?”
“Even though he killed himself?”
“All sins can be forgiven. When I was younger a close friend of mine committed suicide. She had grown discouraged and no matter how hard anyone tried, nobody could get through to her to let her know that things could change. Things could eventually get better.”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
“During that period of mourning, someone gave me a card that I’ve held on to for all these years.” He reaches for the card from his inside pocket and hands it to her. “I want you to have it. Every now and again I would take it out and look at it. It helped me sometimes. It might help you.”
She reads the small cards inscription aloud: Dear God, Bless those who chose life and forgive those who did not.
“It’s not much but sometimes it’s the small things that help. I have to be going. Let me know if you want me to take care of that couch for you.”
“Yes please. I think you’re right.”
“Okay, I’ll have some of the workers bring the new one and take the old one this afternoon.”
“Thank you for everything.”
“Like I said earlier, if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”
“I will. Thanks again.”
With that exchange the Reverend left. She felt a little better but was by no means all the way there yet. It will be a long hard road for her, but the Reverend was right, she had a great support system to lean on.
She walked back to the kitchen table and took one of the paper hearts out of the jar. It was larger than the others and looked different. She unfolded the piece of paper to find it wasn’t a heart at all, just a folded up piece of paper tossed into the jar. On it was not her handwriting. It was his. She wondered if this could be his suicide note. She was afraid to read it but she knew she had to do it. She struggled back the tears while reading it:
Let Me Go
That was it. Nothing more. His last request was to let him go. She knew she could never fully comply with his wish. A part of her would always love him forever. She again started to cry.
He was still slowly fading away. Stan was gone completely. He felt as if he was all alone again. This must be what Stan was talking about; being born again. More and more of him kept disappearing. He was slowly starting to forget until there was nothing left but blackness.
Somewhere in the city, a baby boy is born and the city muffles out his first cries.