She walked back unflinchingly towards the bed, where he had quite forgotten about her and was playing enthusiastically with his hands. She touched his face lightly expecting him to turn towards her.
He didn’t. She rested her palm on his cheek and traced his jaw line gently hoping to elicit a reaction.
“He can’t see from that eye.” His father reminded her silently.
Of course, she remembered that. She took his hand in hers as she moved towards the other side. Somehow, she had captivated his attention. She looked into his unwavering gaze, seeing a little bit of his old self. Very little, but he was there.
She kissed his palms, wetting them with her tears.
“Goodbye.” She whispered into his ear as she pecked his cheek and then his forehead.
She waited till some strength returned in her legs and she could move away from him. She tried to wriggle her slender wrists from his hands but he refused to let go. She turned them sideways and looked up at him. She thought she saw his eyes glisten. His mom assured her it happened regularly.
“What? What is it?” She said after unsuccessfully trying to get away from him. “What does he want?” She asked his father.
“Stop struggling. Give him a chance.” His father hadn’t tried to judge her, or why she came. In a way, she was grateful for his unconditional acceptance. He smiled encouragingly at her, “Don’t worry, I’m right here.” He reassured her.
As she turned from father to son, she let her body loose and her apprehensions disappear. She felt him tug her hand lightly. She let him guide her. She felt him place his hand over hers. His warm hands. Just the way she remembered them. Some things hadn’t changed a bit. The thought brought a smile to her face and when she looked up, he was smiling a little too. Or was it just her imagination?
She felt his thumb graze over her skin. Was he trying to write something? The movements were shaky and uncertain but she was sure he was trying to etch something on her skin. What was that? Her initials? His initials? She couldn’t tell.
She tried explaining this to his parents, but his mother was convinced that he was just randomly moving his thumb. She should have believed his mother, but her heart believed otherwise. He wanted to communicate with her and she wasn’t getting it. Maybe if she hadn’t left him at all, she would have understood him now.
He wasn’t distracted now. She could tell he had to focus, like really focus to keep his eye on her. Impulsively, she squeezed his hand and declared, “I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere. I want to be here with you.” As she said it, she realized she had said what she had wanted to say for 7 years. It was fine and dandy for others to say move on but honestly, what did they know? Had they lost someone so tragically ever? Seen them deteriorate in front of their eyes? She had run out on him when he had needed her the most. Not again. Never again.