Falling to his knees, he let his hands push into the soft earth that she had tilled. Curling his fingers around the tender roots of asparagus, tomatoes, as he pulled them cruelly toward him. As if pulling her back from an impossible place. He felt a yawn in side him, an empty chasm of unimaginable size. The void she left behind. His body prickled, burned in a sense, with so much emptiness. How could she be gone. How could this world be here without her. It’s impossible. He kept looking for her in the mornings. Expecting to see her there, sipping her tea. His ears sought out her chatter in the morning, but all he heard was silence. Long empty stretches of nothing. What was life without Zeala. Was there life without her.
He thought more and more about what to do next. She was his whole world. He should have gone with her. They had joked about that, dying on the same die. But never had they spoke about dying apart. And now that’s how he felt. Like he was dying, slowly, apart from her.
He had held her hand, as the cancer spread, stole her breath, and drowned her. He held her hand and watched the pain in her eyes, and wondered why they couldn’t make it easy for her. Why at the end, with all this technology, they must sentence their own to die in pain. Dogs and cats had it easier than humans. Why make her drown in her own fluid. And that had burned him again, to remember her eyes as she gasped for breath. But now he all he felt was the void.
Opening his eyes he looked at the death before him. Her mangled vegetables and he could hear her scolding him. “What did the ever do to you, you big oaf.” They had you, he thought. And pictured her hands in the dirt with him. Gently laying the roots back in the earth. Setting soil. Bracing the plants. Pulling those that could not be saved. And he worked, setting right his wrongs, talking to her in the garden, letting his salt tears water the roots.