'Is that, is that the damned phone? What the hell- it's still dark... what time is it?' he thought. He fussed over the tangled sheets, trying to get loose, as the phone's ringing got angrier and more urgent sounding. Finally free of his bed's bonds, he turned on the light. The clock said 3:30AM. 'Oh no, this can't be good', he thought. He grabbed the phone and picked it up.
By the time he hung up the phone, the guards came running into his room. All of them wore worried expressions. A few wept openly. He looked up at them, and he knew they knew as well.
“Sir,” said the chief of the garrison, “we received a call from the nursing home!” He wiped his eyes before continuing. “Madame is...”
“Yes, yes. We need to go.” the old man whispered.
While the men were technically guards, they considered it an honor to be considered a kind of wait staff as well for the old man. He was truly like family to them all, and they loved him dearly. A few of them were here from the beginning when Madame was officially 'Madame President', and have stayed ever since. They didn't think twice about helping him change, and shave, to help him save time. His oldest and longest serving guard, came up to him, crying unashamedly.
“Sir, we know you always bring Madame flowers every day, but seeing this is your...” he trailed off before reminding his employer of his anniversary. He wiped his eyes and blew his nose. “Sir, the men and I have taken up a collection, and...and...” Once again he trailed off and stopped to wipe his eyes. He made a quick exit, but when he came back, he was pushing a HUGE cart of long stemmed red roses.
“Sir,” one of the other guards chimed in, “There is a dozen roses for each year you and Madame have been married. We wiped out every florist in the city! It would be our honor, and we would be blessed, if we could bring these flowers for you to give to her.”
He smiled. He couldn't deny them. He told them that of course, they would be allowed, and he was honored to be surrounded by such individuals. Looking at the time, he realized they needed to move fast...
Instead of his usual walk, the guards carried him to their old limousine, and sped off to the home. Another group was loading the flowers into an old truck that was originally used by the city for public works, but he had bought to haul things for smaller inter-city deliveries. In mere seconds, they arrived at the home.
The guards in the truck had backed up to the front door, and had started to unload the flowers. They then loaded every elevator with them, and made their accent to her floor. The guards who drove him in, carried him up the stairs, two by two, and managed to beat the elevators. Without putting him down, they ran to her room. When they entered, they respectably put him down, and backed out of the room.
It was bad. He never saw her like this. He thought he had been scared before, but now, he was terrified. She was a cold light gray color, and she was making rasping noises when she breathed. Her chest heaved with every breath. The doctor looked at him, but didn't really have to say a word. This was the one time she got sick that she wouldn't get better. He hobbled around to the side of the bed, just as the flowers arrived. He reached for her hand... cold. So cold! She was dieing. And his heart was breaking.
“M-meine L-l... Oh, oh God! My Love! My Life!” He lapsed from German to English, telling her how much she meant to him. He collapsed in the chair next to her and cried with huge racking sobs. The doctors and nurses came into the room to try to console him. Their personal physician was there as well, and took him by his arm, and explained what was happening.
“Sir, I'm sorry, but it's time.” The doctor said. The old man listened, and just nodded, crying. “When someone as elderly as you or your wife gets ill, well these things do happen... not to mention her condition...”
The doctor kept talking, but nothing registered in his mind. All he knew was this was the end. Time had run it's course, and it had run out. Now it was time for goodbye. He looked up and asked how long, and was told no later than this evening. (Oh God, no- not today of all days! How damned cruel!) He shook his head in the affirmative, and took his spot, like the thousand times before. He would make this the most beautiful goodbye he could for her.
He tried to make the day as routine as possible. He read the paper to her, but didn't know what to do next when lunch time arrived. 'What do I do?', he thought. So he played with her hair, caressed her face. He told her over and over again, how much he loves her. When she started wheezing and rattling harder, he foolishly thought that the bed sheet was too heavy for her, so he pulled it aside. When she coughed and drooled, he cleaned her up. He tried warming her up by rubbing her hands, then her arms and legs. He wondered when did she get so frail? She was the strongest person he ever knew, and to look at her now... He was so tired by this point, he barely had the energy to cry. He simply made a mournful moaning sound, over and over. Everyone told him that her dieing wasn't painful, but they lied. HE was in pain, and it was the worst feeling he ever felt in his life.
He didn't remember doing it, but when he opened his eyes from a heavy bout of melancholiness, he, or someone, had taken some of the roses, and removed their pedals, and placed them around her on the bed in a beautiful and intricate pattern. He called the nurse, and when she arrived, she smiled and told him it turned out beautifully. She said she came by earlier, and didn't want to interrupt him. So, he did do it himself, he thought. Too bad my beloved can't see this.
When the normal visitation time was over, he was allowed to stay with her. It wouldn't be long now, he knew. They NEVER let me stay past time, he thought. He decided to cover her back up, as the sun was setting, and it would be close to bedtime for her. She didn't cough or complain in any way. She was still- so very, very still. He leaned over to kiss her, and was shocked at how cold her lips were. He cried out in horror when she made a new noise, and shuddered violently. The doctor and nurses came running into the room at the sound of his cry. They checked her respiration, oxygen saturation, and pulse. He was able to read their faces like a book. He knew. This was it.
“Sir?,” The doctor said. “Sir, I need to ask you this- when she stops breathing, and her heart stops beating, do you...”
“No. No...” The waterworks started anew. “Leela and I talked about this day long, long ago. Let her go... let her go.” He buried his face in his hands and cried like he had never heard anyone cry before. His whole body shook. It shook so much, it caused him physical pain; physical pain to match his emotional anguish. He was crying so hard, he was wheezing for breath. If she died, he didn't want to live! He couldn't live without her! 'Oh God! Take me! Take ME!!! Not my precious Leela!', he prayed over and over.
He screamed, and with strength he hadn't had in years, he picked his wife up and held her in her arms. He rocked her slowly, as he ran his fingers though her hair.
He held her as she drew her last breath.