She didn’t look like anything he expected. Her face stared at him from the casket. Her crisp white dress seemed to illuminate her lifeless body. Her hair was midnight black and it flowed down her shoulders. She looked so peaceful. Two red candles sat on each side of the casket and on top rose flowers that he had had picked from the garden. It was an open casket and she had never looked so beautiful. In the background, “Take my hand” played softly. This had been her song, nay, this was their song. It had been played during their wedding and on every other special occasion they had.
David looked at her. He wanted so much to control himself but he couldn’t. He fell down in a heap and wept as memories flashed right before him. He had not only lost the love of his life but his best friend in the whole world.
He felt a hand touch him. It was Marge’s mum. Her eyes were swollen from all the crying. He wanted to be strong for her and the entire family but the weight of the day was taking its toll on him.
Marge smiled at him from the portrait picture. Her eyes told of a different story. They had the power to charm your heart when you looked into them. Her smile was the one thing David had loved about her and her big heart was nothing he could compare to in the world.
Now she was lying there, lifeless knowing that he would never see her smile again. They would never sing their song again. He would never hear her tease him for talking too long to prepare every morning.
David could not understand it. Why was life so cruel? For a moment there, he wished that he was the one lying in the casket. He would have given the world to feel her embrace him once more.
She was so young. They had just been married not so long ago and were looking forward to a long life together. Clearly that dream was now dead.
They had met several years ago while still in college. They fell in love and despite what everyone else said they did not care. They knew they were going to be together for a long time – till death parted them. Now as David looked at her, he could not understand why she had to go first. They had promised each other, on that starry night that they would be there for each other, that nothing would ever separate them. They had fallen in love with each other over and over again.
Nothing would have prepared him for what was about to happen. They had talked the previous day and were looking forward to finally being reunited after months of separation. The excitement in her voice was so evident as her voice came over the phone. She was to arrive in the morning hours and David would be waiting for her at the station.
News would come in that a bus headed from Mombasa to Nairobi had been involved in a tragic accident earlier that morning. The news was all over the media. More than half the people had lost their lives on the spot. People were informed to travel to the city mortuary and the hospitals around to check for their relatives.
It was his best friend who called to inform him about it.
“When was Marge supposed to arrive? It is all over the news that a bus from Mombasa has just been involved in an accident and half the people are dead. You better call her just to check in.”
David could not say anything as the reality started dawning on him. Marge had called to inform him that they had already left Mombasa. They were to communicate again when she was about halfway the journey.
It was about time. He prayed that the phone would ring and her soothing voice would assure him that she was still on her way. Thirty minutes later, his phone had not rung yet. He was now getting worried.
What could be happening, he wondered.
When he had gathered up enough courage, he dialed her number hoping to the heavens that she would answer. Nothing came from the other end. He tried calling again and still nothing. He felt a sea of anxiety deep inside. He could feel every nerve in him tingling.
He dialed her number again. Still nothing. The silence on the other end took a grip on him. He was doing his best to remain positive but after several hours he could not fool himself any longer. Something was obviously not right. It had been more than two hours and she had not called yet. He decided to call her mum, so that together they could think of what to do next. He was about to dial her number when his screen flashed. It was a call from an unknown number.
She had probably misplaced her phone and had borrowed someone else’s to call him. He hoped to God that his suspicions were true.
Slowly he put the phone to his ear and listened.
“Hello,” It was a woman’s voice and not just any other woman but Marge. He sighed with relief.
Honey, I have been looking for you. You are not picking your calls.”
“Dave, am not doing okay. We were involved in…”
The call disconnected. It was then that he noticed the weakness in her voice. He had been too excited to finally hear from her that it had escaped him.
He dialed the number. A male voice came over the phone.
“Hello. Are you David? I am calling you from Siloam Hospital. Your wife was brought in among the injured from a road accident this morning. We are doing everything we can to keep her as comfortable as we can and probably try to save her life.”
His screams drowned the voice from the doctor. He felt the earth collapse beneath him. Strong hands grabbed him by the head before he could hit the ground and everything became pitch black. He came to an hour later to see his mother in law seated beside his bed.
“Mummy, where is Marge. Someone called…Oh no…where is Marge….”
She looked at him. Her eyes were ever full of light but this time there was a grey in them – like a darkness inside them. Immediately he knew that things were not alright. He eyes welled with tears and they streamed out almost immediately.
Marge was dead. She had been fatally hurt and it had just taken a few minutes for her to succumb to her injuries. The doctors, they said had tried everything they could to save her life but she had lost a lot of blood already.
He looked at his mother in law, she was calm. She was trying her best not to cry. She wanted to remain strong for her son in law, a young man whose future had been snatched before it even took shape.
It was now days since she had been laid to rest. The only memory that remained was in her pictures. He would look into them every day. From them he would draw out the courage to move on. It was going to be hard but he would try.
He smiled. At least she had chosen to spend her life with him.
He woke up drenched in sweat. It was just another dream. The weather was slightly warm. December was almost over and soon they would usher in a new year.
A familiar aroma wafted in his nostrils. Suddenly the scintillating smell of freshly baked bread caused him to salivate. He heard that same song he had heard every single morning, “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” This was his song. He would make her happy in all ways he could afford. To celebrate their love for the days that remained. This would be the legacy he left her.
He had not yet opened the envelope Dr. Shah had given him. From their conversation the previous day, the ever enthusiastic doctor seemed to be holding back something, as if he was protecting him from a major heartbreak. In silence he had walked out of the hospital room. Soon enough he would find the courage to open it.
Written by Lillyanne Gathoni