In those final days, as Emily’s health deteriorated, she began to lose the ability to speak. She was sharp as ever, but the actual physical act of speaking had become difficult, so her words were reserved. At the same time, her need for assistance in certain tasks was increasing as she lost strength.
To ensure that she could get my attention in the middle of the night, I downloaded an app to her phone that made a buzzing noise. While it was effective, it required Emily to turn on her screen, swipe to unlock it and then touch the button on the screen. Had there been some type of emergency, this just wasn’t going to be quick enough. So, I asked Emily’s parents to see if they could find a solution at a local store. They came back with a small, pink bicycle horn. Without much of a squeeze at all, it emitted a banshee-like squeak that would surely do the trick.
That evening, just before I got on the couch to get a little sleep, I placed the little horn in Emily’s skinny fingers and told her the same thing I told her every night:
“There is nothing you shouldn’t wake me up for. Whatever you want or need, however insignificant it may seem, let me know.”
I didn’t tell her this because I am a stellar husband doting over my beautiful wife. I told her this because Emily was so overtly concerned about me, that she would lay there and suffer through whatever the issue may be so that I could get more sleep – -stubborn as always.
I turned out the lights and crawled under my blankets. Those last weeks were particularly exhausting, so as soon as I got horizontal, I felt myself starting to drift. Moments in, however, I heard that horn bleat out its deafening squeal.
I jumped to my feet, already dazed from seconds of sleep, and stumbled the few feet to Emily’s bedside. In the glow of the television, I could see a slow, satisfied smile ease across Emily’s thin face. It took about half a second for me to realize that she was just screwing with me.
As with everything in life, Emily always knew that nothing was so serious that you couldn’t find some humor in it. She passed away the next day. Somewhere, in some small way, I know that she is satisfied that she got me last.
When I go, I’m bringing that horn with me.