I stand beside Holly’s graveside and pretend to listen as the preacher yammers on as if he knew my wife. The truth is he’s never laid eyes on her, not until today. He doesn’t know that she loved eating Fruit Loops in bed while watching scary movies. He has no idea that her favorite color was blue because her granny always wore a blue house coat with flowers on it. He doesn’t care that her favorite time of year was summer because it meant she could swim at the lake behind her Aunt Susan’s house. He doesn’t know a fucking thing about her, but still, he talks as if they were the best of friends.
Ignoring him, I look around me. Everyone she cared about crowds around her gravesite. Her parents, her sister, friends, and our club family are all staring at the preacher as if, somehow, his words are gonna give them answers of why this is happening.
I take in each person, looking to see if they’re different. They all look the same as they did two weeks ago. They have tears in their eyes, grief written all over their faces, but they still look the same. Not one of them looks like me; not one of them looks like their world has ended.
I know when they leave here, their lives are gonna go on. They are gonna keep on living, and they’re gonna expect me to do the same thing. I have no idea how that’s possible. How the hell do I keep on living with a fucking hole in my soul?
The preacher finally goes quiet for a minute before looking toward me then to Holly’s dad and mom. “Let’s all bow our heads and pray.”
I bow my head but do not pray. Instead, I question my decision to let her go again. Was it time? Were the doctors right? Did I do the right thing? How will I ever know?
A little more than two weeks ago, an eighteen-wheeler side swiped Holly’s car. It hit the passenger side, but the force of the impact was so strong that it literally crushed Holly’s body between the truck and her door. Somehow, she survived. Well, at least, her body did.
Holly was beat to hell. I barely even recognized her the first time I saw her lying in the hospital bed. She had injuries from her head to her toes and more broken bones than they could count. Her heart kept beating, though, but she never opened her eyes again. For two weeks, she laid in her hospital bed and never even made a sound.
Six days after the accident, the doctor came to tell me my wife’s brain scan showed no activity. The chance of her ever regaining consciousness was nearly zero. He said, as long as the ventilator remained in place, she would continue to live, but she would never truly be alive again. He told me it was my choice whether to leave the ventilator in place or remove it and let her go. In his opinion, the second option was more humane. It took everything in me not to pull out my gun and put a bullet between his eyes. Instead, I just walked away, sure that my woman would prove him wrong.
For the next week, I sat by her side, holding her hand in mine. I watched as her bruises started to fade, hoping her brain was healing in the same way. I stared at her for hours on end, hoping to see some movement, even a twitch of her eyes, but she never moved a muscle.
Others came and went. Her parents and her sister came every day. Even my brothers and the old ladies stopped by. They brought me clothes and food, but mostly, they just came to show their support. Some people stayed longer than others, but eventually, they all went home. Not me. I never left her side. I wanted to be the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes.
I talked to her until I was so hoarse my voice would barely rise above a whisper. I told her stories about my childhood, reminded her of the things we had done together, and spent hours telling her about the plans I had for her future. Finally, I started to beg her to wake up, pleading with her to make a sound. She didn’t do either.
After a week of holding her hand, and numerous talks with doctor after doctor, I realized they were right. My woman was gone. Her body was lying in the bed, but she had already left me behind. Now, it was my job to let her go.
Fourteen days after her accident, they removed the ventilator keeping her alive. I watched as her body started to jerk, thinking for a second she was finally waking up. That thought was only a dream. Within minutes, Holly was gone.
I shake away my thoughts and focus on the preacher. “Give faith to those who have lost a loved one today, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead with a heart filled with love instead of grief. Give them comfort in the knowledge that Holly is with you, my Lord, and she is basking in eternal peace. In the name of Christ, we pray, Amen.”
I pull in a breath as I watch her parents and sister walk up to place a flower in the coffin. They are laying red roses on her chest, and I want to scream at them, tell them she didn’t like roses. My woman liked daisies, pure white daisies.
As soon as they step away from Holly, I walk over to her coffin and place my hand against her cheek. I feel the chill of her skin all the way to my bones and know I’ll never be warm again.
Leaning forward, I place my lips to her ear and whisper, “See you soon, baby.”
Not waiting for them to lower her into the ground, not stopping to talk to her parents or even acknowledge my brothers, I walk to my bike and climb on. I start the engine, knowing Holly isn’t the only one going in the ground. I may still be breathing, but my heart is being buried with her.