She looked so peaceful lying there, beautiful as always. The ring he gave her still on her finger. Everyone else had left hours ago but he could not bring himself to leave her side.
Jacob knelt down and propped himself against the casket. Thoughts of every moment they had spent together tore their way through his consciousness. Memories once scattered, random, now fell in place. He could count each step, grasp every sensation, recall each moment. It had all made sense up till now. What once had been the answer to everything, now lay lifeless beside him. He reached up to brush his hand against a soft white cheek but could not. His hand stopped, suspended . . . between, beyond his fingers a vision began to form. A soft color stretched from wall to wall. Tension filled the space between, pressing itself against him. Any moment now she would be coming through the door. The snap of a lock, turn of the knob . . .
Jacob clenched his eyes and drew himself against the side of the casket. Burning memories streaked and stained his cheeks. Lifeless eyes stare through an emptiness surrounded with regret. Time, which seems so long, in the end passed so quickly.
He could feel the butterflies in his stomach screaming as she walked through the door. His hand ran down his hip and across his thigh, making sure it was still there. She sensed something strange in the air and asked Jacob what was wrong.
“Nothing.” Jacob replied.
“Well something is going on, you look like a nervous wreck.”
“I, uh . . . need to ask you something.”
“What is it?”
Jacob felt the bulge in his pocket once again.
“You know, I can still remember the first time we met. You, sitting across the table from me, smiling. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you. I knew the first time I saw you I was going to love you. I had never felt that way about anyone before. I could talk to you so easily. You just seemed to understand me. And the way you looked at me . . . it was like your eyes already knew everything that was going to happen between us.”
“I remember all that too . . .”
“We have been together a long time, been through so much together. You’re everything to me, I can’t imagine my life without you.”
Jacob reached a hand in his pocket, pulled out a small blue box and held it out before him.
“Will you marry me?”
“Oh my God, yes, of course I will. I love you so much . . .”
A sound shattered the moment. A figure entered through the large oak doors at the end of the room. It was Jacob’s father. His father made his way across the room, toward Jacob . . . toward the casket. He stopped at the first row of empty chairs and sat himself down. Jacob looked up. His father, staring at the floor, cleared his throat.
“I know I haven’t been much of a father to you. I made all the mistakes I swore I’d never make. I’ve turned out just like my father and I know you hate me, just like I hated him.”
A warmth passed through Jacob’s cheeks. He stared at his father, sitting there, speaking like he never had before.
“Jesus son, I don’t know what to say. I know I can’t change what I’ve done and I’m sorry as hell for what happened. I wish I could trade places with her.”
Jacob sat, not knowing what to say. The moment weighed heavy, so heavy Jacob could barely move. His head turned in his fathers direction.
“Everything I had hoped for, dreamed of, it’s all gone. It’s lying here next to me . . . lifeless. I don’t know what to do. I’m lost, I just can’t . . . I can’t understand any of this.”
Jacob’s father let out a deep sigh, then stood up.
“Come with me.”
“What . . . where?”
“I want you to come with me. Come on.”
Jacob’s father turned and headed toward the door. Jacob forced himself upright, then followed.