Everyone dies. Sooner or later, one way or another, we all die. How we go is another thing entirely – but when it's time, it's time. When we go might not be up to us, but then again, not much about death is under our control. But no matter what, one thing remains the same for all of us:
Everyone dies, and when we do, we're bound to break hearts – hearts that once loved us.
"Henry, I'm cold."
He doesn't speak – he rarely does – but phantom arms reach out to envelope her in their false warmth and against all logic, she can feel herself warming up from the inside; a slow, warm glow spreads from her heart and warms the dead shell she inhabits, memories of a lifetime lost shrouding her from hurt – some sort of pity gift, because they have already taken too much from her, and so these nights are a gift of sorts.
They stay that way all night long because she is long past the point of needing sleep; she needs him, needs this lie, more than anything. Above all, she has to believe the lie; has to make herself live in this twisted dream, one that costs more than she can afford to pay.
But it always collects, even when she can't pay, and she is left with pieces of her broken heart in the harsh glare of daylight, just a select few broken pieces as the devil collects shards to ensure that her heart will never be whole again.
As bitter reality and cold sunlight infiltrate her dark room, she allows her eyes one second of rest, just to adjust. But when they open, they've adjusted to more than she asked for, and reality is in the field of her perfect vision; perfect vision that allows her to catalogue the way his half of the bed is perfectly made, the way his pillow hasn't been slept on, the way nothing has changed.
The way a ghost leaves behind no trace.
Everyone dies. Eventually, someday, one day – what does it matter? We live and we die and somewhere along the line, if we're really lucky, we find some meaning to life, some logic and rhythm to draw us in and compel us to go down a certain path. And if we're really, really lucky, we find someone to share that meaning, that rhythm, that path, with. But at the end of the day, what difference does it make?
Everyone dies, and then we are left alone, wanting only to go where we cannot – not just yet.
"Henry, I'm cold."
It's time for celebration and family and love but as her extended family spends the most festive night of the year together, she is holed up in her dark abyss, freezing from the very inside because the huge loss she has suffered is unnatural and even now, her body still fights against it, desperately trying to reunite them. She wants nothing more than to freeze and wake up where he is, but time and time again she has wished the exact same thing only to wake up in her half-bed, the one that's too big for her because it hadn't been bought for her, but for them.
Outside, people – normal, innocent people who still feel warmth– sing of joy and peace and love, and she wants to hurt each and every one of them because it's almost as if they're shoving it in her face, things that she won't ever have again; things that she had had, for the shortest moment possible, before they - he - had been cruelly ripped away from her.
Dutifully, he draws her close and she revels in this warmth that defies the laws of logics and rationality and any other semblance of normality that might have been left undisturbed. And even as she feels him slipping away from her to escape the morning sun, she closes her eyes and pretends that those songs of joy and peace and love are of him and her and their lives together.
The unnatural cold that lingers deep within her bitter soul comes calling at sunrise as her heart breaks for the millionth time, and she is convinced that if she just holds her breath, maybe this time she will hear it; maybe this time the most painful of happenings will finally make a sound.
It doesn't seem fair that a harmless car crash can make more sound than a fatal heartbreak.
Everyone dies. Every minute, every hour, every day, someone is lost and someone is hurt and a whole lot of other people grieve. We gather, in what is perhaps the most confusing tradition of all time, to celebrate this loss and hurt and pain. We gather in the hopes of offering comfort to that hurt person, thinking that maybe the lost one would want this. We gather in the hopes of being offered comfort.
Everyone dies, and sometimes, all the comfort in the world still isn't enough.
"Henry, I'm cold."
The odds of a huge general hospital such as theirs being hit by a rogue shooter are slim. The odds of the very same thing happening twice are pretty much nonexistent. And the odds of her being hit… well, she can't calculate that right now.
She doesn't quite mind, though. He's here, in broad daylight, so it's a price she's willing to pay. She'd once feared the very sight of him in a hospital – her hospital – so very much, but what does it matter now?
"Oh, God. Teddy, please just hold on, okay? You'll be fine, I promise. I love you." It's so nice to hear him talking, and so much. There are a lot of emotions, too, on his face and in his voice, and she thinks if she can just close her eyes, maybe she can pretend that everything's alright again.
"No, honey, please don't close your eyes. Teddy, please." He's imploring her to hold on and stay alive but she doesn't want to. Staying alive has gotten a whole lot harder ever since he gave up on it, and merely existing isn't enough anymore. Besides, he'd ignored her when she had made those exact same pleas while he had been on a cold metal table, gone forever, and so she figures she can do the same now.
Eventually, she opens her eyes, but only because she wants to tell him she'll be there soon, and they'll be happy again. There's blood, so much blood, staining her top. It's actually quite a pretty shade of red, and she wonders how she's never noticed that.
"I'll be with you soon," She tells him and fights to keep her eyes open, just to see the way he'll smile at the thought of their reunion. But he doesn't.
"No, Teddy. NO. You are not coming here, do you hear me? Not yet. Not now." He isn't making much sense because of course Henry would want her to be with him, wouldn't he? And so she just smiles and focuses on the way he's holding on to her and comforts herself with the knowledge that soon, very soon now, they'll be together again.
"I love you so much, Teddy. Please don't die yet. Please?"
But she already has. She died the day he did.
Everyone dies. It can be cancer, or a gunshot, or a freak accident. It can be because you wanted to, because someone else wanted you to, or it can be an accident. It can be with loved ones, with people you hate, or all alone. Eventually, we all leave and none of this matters. We were born and we lived and we loved and we hurt and we lost and then we die, and that's just how it is for everyone.
Everyone dies, but some of us just go through more pain in life first than the others.
When she opens her eyes, she does it slowly to savor the moment she and her Henry are brought back together.
But she is greeted by a steady beeping and a sterile smell and the familiar eyes of her old friend, and this is all so wrong; so very wrong because Henry isn't here. Henry isn't here. Henry isn't here.
"Oh, thank God, Teddy. You were almost gone for a while. Thought we'd lost you." Her old best friend, the one she'd thought knew her best before she'd met Henry, has brought her back for another round of pain and hurt and misery. Others bustle around, keeping her in this state of torture, keeping her in this world, keeping her in this painful reality and then it sinks it.
She's alive and Henry's dead.
She's still alive and Henry's still dead and she is still so very cold without him.
No no no no no.
An anguished cry rips through her very frame and till this very day, those who heard the cry swear their hearts froze and broke at the mere sound of it.
She remains cold until her very last breath.