Friday, April 22, 2011

Three Days

Three days. Seventy-two hours - or less. 

Where did you go for that time?
Did you know I was alone?

Or did you know that I left you first.
You knew I would leave you; you told me yourself.

I thought I was stronger. I thought too much of myself.

But you still showed me grace.

*     *     *

Charlie opened his eyes and saw the bland white ceiling lit by the early morning sunshine. Tears filled his eyes; another day here on earth. He had already put in 87 years, 4 months, and 17 days. When could he go home? This decrepit body was a prison cell for his soul that had served an interminable sentence on this planet. A soft knock on the door triggered a soft sob from Charlie's chest. He didn't have the energy for this any more. His family came to see him every weekend now; they all knew he didn't have much time left.

"Grandpa?" A gentle voice followed the sound of his door opening. Why did the retirement home staff allow grandkids to have keys? "Grandpa, are you awake yet?" His granddaughter tiptoed into the room. "Did I wake you up?" She asked when she saw he was still in bed.

"No," he whispered through the tears, "I just haven't got up yet."

"Don't worry; take your time." She backed out the door, "I'll wait downstairs with Mom and Dad. I just wanted to see if you were awake." The young girl paused. "I love you, Grandpa," she said quietly before closing the door. 

Charlie sighed when she left. He couldn't remember her name. He loved her, but he couldn't remember her name. He couldn't remember her mom's name either. Her dad was his son, his son Peter. Charlie could remember that. He could remember the day Peter was born. It was a sunny day in April and the hospital wouldn't admit Elaine until they had a name picked out. Apparently too many babies had been leaving the hospital without names on their birth certificates. Charlie and Elaine had talked about a couple of names, but they hadn't decided for sure on one yet. 

"His name is Peter." Elaine said confidently between deep breaths. 

Charlie had been too stunned to respond; three days before Elaine found out he was having an affair. She should have called him Judas, but she shouted that his denial of her was like Peter. 

Sixteen hours later Charlie was holding Peter in his arms.

"Charlie, do you love me?" Elaine asked softly.

"Yes, E, I do."

"Then help me raise my son."

Five minutes went by before she asked the question again; an hour later she repeated the words.

"Yes, sweetheart, I swear I do." Charlie began to cry when she questioned him the third time.

"Charlie, learn from Peter."