Letting go is the most painful kind of love to give
Malik wraps his arms gently around my waist, pulling my back flush against his on the thin bed. He cradles my head on his arm, ensuring my oxygen tube flows freely and unhindered with our new sleeping arrangements.
The bed dips as he lowered himself behind me, placing a soft kiss on my bald head, behind my ears, and on my neck, just the way I like it.
A soft sigh escapes my lips, and I snuggle closer to him, wincing when it hurt like hell.
“Are you all right?” he asks, raising himself on an elbow, his warm breath fanning the side of my face.
“I’m used to it. But I want to see your face. I don’t want our time together to end with me facing away from you.”
He places a hand on my shoulder, releasing a quick breath. “It’ll hurt to have you lying on your other side. Alia, I’m content with having you in my arms one last time. That’s all that matters. I’ll rather remember us together like this than have you hide your pain before me.”
“I still want to have a good look at you. I want your face to be the last thing I see when I go to sleep tonight. This might be my last chance to touch you -,”
He cuts me off, sitting up. “Don’t talk like that, Alia. The doctor says you’re improving and your chemo shows positive results. I’m hopeful, you should be too. Don’t you want to come home to us? To your little girl?”
I roll over on my back, looking up at him with a wistful smile. “This feels much better, and you look ruggedly handsome, my love,” I say, tracing my frail fingers along the creased lines of his temple.
My hands reach for his, and I pull it toward my lips, kissing it tenderly. He shuts his eye, savoring the moment. “Alia,” he groans.
“I have little time left, my love. I know this because I feel my life force slowly slipping away.”
I grip his hands. “Malik, the doctors can only say what their results tell them, but I’m the one strapped to this bed, suffering beyond words with each passing day. I need you to listen to me, and stop being delusional, banking on hope.”
He flinches, but quickly masks it.
When he speaks, I heard the hurt in his voice. “You cannot possibly ask me not to hope, Alia. You’re my wife, and Aishat needs her mother. I have nothing else to hold on to but hope. It has worked in the past, it can still work.”
My hands tremble when I lift our interlinked hands to my lips, sniffing. There was no way I could make him understand the amounts of pain I endured daily, yet I needed him to trust my truth.
“Malik, this time it’s different. You can hope for the strength to be there for our daughter, and to look after her like I would have done, but there’s no coming back for me,” I say with a soft sniff, my eyes filling as his brimmed over.
“Is that why you asked me to stay tonight?”
I gave him a slight nod, squeezing his hands in mine. “I’m in so much pain, Malik. It hurts a thousand times more than it did in our last two runs. This is my last lap. This is where it ends for me, and I want to glide across the finish line with you holding my hands and cheering me on.”
“If it hurt so much, why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because you worry too much.”
He made to protest, but my hands slides up to cup his face, pulling him down beside me while I turned to face him. “Not tonight. I don’t want to argue. I only want you to love me with your hands.”
His brows shoot up to the sky at my request, but I allay his fears with a warm kiss on his lips. “Make me feel alive again, Malik. Love me reverently. Let’s make beautiful memories tonight.”
I feel his warm tears stain my cheeks as he dips his head to claim my lips gently. “I love you, Alia. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and I cannot imagine a life without you. Please fight this for me.”
We kissed like hungry teenagers, devouring our lips like an addiction.
Our tears blend in an ocean of love, pain, and passion, but I knew that the only thing I could grant him was tonight.
Taking his hands in mine, I crane my neck and place a kiss on his temple. “I love you too, Malik, always and evermore. That’s the only unbreakable promise I can ever keep.”
He caves in my arms, holding me to him lovingly with a nod of acceptance.