Well, it turns out that the worst things in life are free, too.
Like Pete's heart rate slowing down to a crawl this morning.
Joe and Andy tried comforting me, but I was on the edge of my seat, shaking and crying terribly. I didn't want it to be time.
"P-P-P-Pete...P-Pete...." I kept muttering, over and over, trying to calm myself.
"Stop shaking, Patrick! You're going to hyperventilate." Joe warned.
"I-I-I c-c-cant..." I replied shakily.
Suddenly Pete's heart monitor went wild. I jumped out of my seat and started freaking out.
"Help him! HELP HIM!" I exclaimed, directing it towards the doctors.
They rushed around and pressed buttons and gave needles until finally...his rate was back to normal. I heard the entire room sigh in relief.
"Thank god..." I breathed. I went over and kissed Pete's hand (he was asleep) and a doctor pulled on my arm. I pulled it away and looked at him oddly.
"Patrick...could I please talk to you?" he said, looking troubled. I nodded and followed him outside of the room to a spot where I could see Pete but had some privacy. I looked at Pete, sleeping soundly. I knew he was hurting.
"Patrick...look at me." the doctor said forcefully. I reluctantly pulled my gaze from Pete's face.
"Hm?" I said.
He sighed, "Patrick....I'm worried that you're losing it. Pete's only got a few hours left. Your actions are worrying me...I don’t want you to hurt yourself or anyone else." he told me.
"A-A few m-more hours..? B-B-But...but I-I...I have to say goodbye to him...he has to wake up before he...before he..."
"No Patrick. I don’t believe he's going to wake back up. You'll be lucky if he holds on for another three hours. He's going to die in his sleep..."
Tears slipped down my face.
"NO! No!" I shouted, trying to run back into the room. The doctor grabbed me.
"Stop it, Patrick!" he scolded. "You have to understand that this is life! You have to know that Pete is in PAIN." he said firmly.
"I love him!!! I love him!!! I don’t want him to die, PLEASE!!!" I sobbed, the doctor having to hold me up by under my armpits.
He sighed heavily, "I know you do, Patrick." he said more softly. "But...everyone has to go at some time."
I was looking into this doctor's eyes. They were baby blue.
I knew he was right. I let go of his jacket and stood up straight.
"I know." I whispered.
The doctor left me in the hallway all alone.
Soon I walked back into Pete's room. His heart monitor was slow again. I was still crying.
If it were possible to dehydrate from crying so much, I was sure that would happen to me soon. I'd never cried so much in my life.
I went over and sat next to Pete. A nurse was aimlessly replenishing his IV. I looked up and watched her work. She looked at sorrowfully and said, "You're Patrick?" she asked.
"He's only holding on for you." she said slowly, quietly. Grief flooded into me like a river. It was true. I was possibly the only reason Pete was fighting for his life.
Despite how much I wanted him with me forever, I knew he was in pain, as the doctor had said.
I took his hand, squeezed it, and leaned into his ear.
"You can let go now, Petey..." I whispered. It was silent.
His heart rate went up and down at different rate, increasing and decreasing. That was the only sound. I only watched his face and listened. I almost thought I heard his heartbeat. I kept holding his hand and tears cascaded down my cheeks.
Joe and Andy, hearing the wild beeping from the heart monitor, came rushing into the room.
I heard them exclaim and shout, but I didn't look. I kept on holding Pete's hand.
"Go on...don't put yourself through anymore pain." I whispered, so quiet it was nearly inaudible.
The doctors knew there was nothing more to be done. They stood and watched in silence as Andy and Joe screamed things at them like, 'What are you doing!?!?', 'Do something!!!', and 'Help him!!!'.
They didn't understand.
The heart monitor got slow again and after the momentary fray and madness, the room got all quiet.
Beep beep beep beep beep...beep beep...beep beep...beep....beep....blip.....
Nothing was heard. Not one single noise. Fresh tears soaked the bed sheets and I squeezed Pete's hand tighter than ever.
"Nine o' seven AM, February 15th." the young voice of a doctor muttered, breaking the silence.
I felt someone rubbing my back, and I knew it was the strong, rough, hands of Joe and Andy.
A few whimpers escaped me, but mostly tears. I knew Pete was out of his misery...in God's hands now...but I still felt like I was lonelier than ever. I stood up, not letting go of Pete's hand.
"You okay, Patrick?" Joe murmured. "I know it hurts." he said sorrowfully.
"It was meant to." I breathed, wiping away tears. I leaned down and placed a long kiss on Pete's lips. His face was paling up.
I couldn't stand to watch.
I would never feel the warm touch his hand on cheeks. I would never feel his perfect, wet, lips pressed anywhere on my disheveled body.
Never again could I take in the scent he dubbed of old cologne and sweat that was oddly calming, nor would I taste the tingly feeling I got whenever I kissed him.
I couldn't ever see his beautiful, chocolate, brown eyes ever again. I couldn't look into them, couldn't feel their loving gazes.
It was almost too much to comprehend. Never doing any of that ever again, and more. Just not seeing him everyday for the rest of my life was enough to make me question my life.
Joe, Andy, and I were called out of the room. Kissing Pete one last time, I left him with a tear and took the Valentine I'd made him with me.
I put it in my pocket with the one he made for me. The small memorabilia made my heart throb.
All felt lost.
The funeral was held a few days later.
I stood in my black suit and tie, just looking at myself in the mirror. I was looking kind of like the living dead, taking on grey bags under my eyes and tired, simple eyes. My hair was a horrible mess, I hadn't showered in forever.
I combed my greasy hair down and shoved a black fedora on my head.
I was looking sharp, but for all the wrong reasons.
I stared at myself for a while longer, biting my lip. If Pete were here, he would probably kiss me. I wouldn’t even have taken his long with myself, because he would use up a lot of time pressing me against countertops and things, just kissing me and telling me what I meant to him.
There were no more wonderful distractions.
A car horn beeped from the front of my apartment. It was Joe. He said he'd pick me up.
I grabbed a small piece of paper, crinkled and tearstained, and put it into my pocket along with the two valentines.
When I got into the car, I slammed the door and sat in silence. Joe looked back at me solemnly.
"How are you?" he asked. I hadn't been answering phone calls, texts, emails, IMs....
"Okay." I replied. Okay was anything but the truth. I AM NOT OKAY.
"Are you sure?" he asked. I was getting annoyed with his questioning.
I gave him a dirty look. "Yeah, just....drive, okay?" I snapped. Joe glanced at Andy and then started to drive on his way down the street. While in the car, I wondered what Pete and I would be doing if he were here.
Probably goofing around in the kitchen, making breakfast. Laughing, singing,...making out.
I shook the thoughts and memories from my mind vigorously, and reached into my pocket.
I read over the speech I had written, checking grammar and making sure it would sound truthful and presentable. I shoved it back in my pocket, fed up by my scraggly hand-writing, and took out Pete's valentine.
I love you always. - Patrick
Tears threatened to slip down my face, and they were blurring my vision.
"Put that away, Patrick. Don’t kill yourself like that." Andy murmured, seeing me on the verge of tears through the rear-view mirror.
I sighed, but it was not refreshing like sighs are supposed to feel. It felt like it rotted my organs. It felt like with every breath I was dying inside.
Finally, we got to the mass. It was a long, sad, church service, but I sat through it, just wanting to go to the viewing.
After an hour or more, everyone rose and followed as the casket carriers lifted the casket up into the hearse. I got into Joe's car and we drove up to the funeral home.
The casket was placed on the riser and opened for all to pay their last respects. It was a private get-together, and no paparazzi or fans were allowed. I kneeled next to Pete's casket and looked down at his face. He seemed to be glowing.
Almost like he was still alive.
I leaned down and kissed his cheek. He was cold and powdery, but he was still Pete. I slowly retrieved the valentine from my pocket and placed it in Pete's hand.
"For you, my dear. It's yours." I reminded. I didn't leave his side, but I moved down so other people had the chance to grieve.
Before I knew it, I was at an oak podium, giving a heartfelt speech about how much Pete was loved....is still loved. I barely brought myself to finish speaking before my voice cracked. I was cold and shaking. It was almost as if I'd jumped into the ocean and then stood outside in a Chicago snowstorm. I ground my fists into my eye sockets, wiping away tears roughly. Joe and Andy tried to comfort me, but I only shook more and more. I couldn't tell the difference from one thing to another...my vision was blurred by tears and I couldn't think. I couldn't think about anything. But somehow Pete was there. His memory lingering. I shivered.
The only warm thing on my body was my tears. I felt sickened by how hot they were compared to my body temperature, which seemed below zero.
Suddenly, everyone seemed to be moving. Joe and Andy grabbed my arms and lifted me up. I saw the casket's lid closing. For one last moment, I glimpsed Pete's face. I thought I was sobbing, but my ears weren’t working clearly. Or...I wasn't listening.
"Patrick!? Patrick can you hear me!?" Joe exclaimed. I was brought back to life.
"Y-Yes." I replied. Joe sighed.
"We're going outside now...for the burial." I nodded in comprehension.
They lowered Pete into the ground. I wished I were having a bad nightmare...that I could just wake up from all of this kicking and screaming...but Pete would be there. He'd be there to comfort me and caress my cheek. To kiss my lips. I wouldn't feel cold, his body pressed to mine.
'I'm not afraid to die, Tricky...'
Pete's words echoed throughout my mind.
I stared into nothingness as I scarcely heard the priest muttering the last prayers. An awful wind whipped against my soaking wet face. It stung, but I didn't care. I saw from my peripheral vision people depleting, crying silently.
I hung my head.
"He's gone....for...for g-good..." I whispered. Joe squeezed my shoulder.
"It's going to be okay, Patrick. You'll get through this." Joe replied.