BellaOnline Literary Review
Keegan by KJ Ward

Five Days To Eternity

Ruthe McDonald

Day One...

"Do you think you can manage to pass the pillow to me without falling?" Rosanna laughed. She enjoyed watching Jonathon stumble over himself early in the morning. This was one of the things she was going to miss—that is, if Heaven had no memories.

Jonathon smiled. Rosanna looked like a mischievous child sitting on the bed with a devilish grin. Her soulful brown eyes still sparkled, though he could see the sadness. It was amazing how she could make him feel so strong, full of love and hope, when he should have been the one doing that for her. His smile grew wider. Still as beautiful as the day he’d met her. It was her contagious smile and those dimples that had him hooked! Her skin glowed like an Egyptian goddess. Her hair pulled up on top of her head with a few curls escaping. The sun highlighted the caramel undertones.

He tossed the pillow at her. "How’s that for not falling," he laughed. "You know, it’s not my fault that I fell? I believe you had a hand in that," he said raising an eyebrow.

"I suppose you’re right. But you do know how I love to see you fall for me!" Rosanna laughed.

"Is that so?" Jonathon crawled onto the bed underneath the blankets.

Rosanna giggled. She hadn’t felt this alive in a long time. "Stop! Please!" She pleaded as Jonathon tickled her beneath the blankets.

Jonathon stuck his head out and smiled. "You sure you want me to stop?" He grinned sheepishly.

"Oh stop," Rosanna mused. She gently grabbed him by the ears, pulling his face close to hers until they were but a breath away. She smiled at him lovingly, wanting to study his face for a moment; trying to burn the memory into her brain so it would never leave her.

Jonathon looked into her eyes, knowing what she was thinking. He was thinking the same thing, too. He wanted to bottle up this moment and every moment for the next five days. He wanted to lock them away in his heart where no one could get to them. Where they’d be safe forever.

Rosanna leaned forward and gently kissed him. She closed her eyes, lingering for a long while, memorizing the softness and the taste of his lips.

Her kisses were like feathers; like the gentle breeze after an early morning rain shower. When he breathed in, he smelled the lavender scent of her hair. Jonathon saw when the tears began to fall, and he wanted to bottle each one. He leaned forward and kissed her tear stained cheeks.

Rosanna kept her eyes closed, wrapping her arms around Jonathon’s neck. She didn’t want to let him go. She couldn’t help it; her weeping becoming heavy sobs. Her heart aching.

This just wasn’t fair! How could God be so cruel? God! She screamed within her soul. Not now! Please not now. I need more time. I beg of you; I don’t want to leave him alone. Not like this. Not without a part of me. Please God....

Day Two...

It was a beautiful sight to behold: the rising sun over the ocean. The beautiful tangerine and purple hues seemed to levitate above the water. Rosanna loved this time of day; finding inspiration in sunrises. She tightened the blanket around her shoulders as she stepped onto the lanai, carefully closing the sliding doors so not to wake Jonathon.

Sitting quietly in one of the chairs facing the rising sun, Rosanna rested her feet in the chair opposite her. She wondered if she would ever see another sunrise. Would she even remember what a sunrise was? She leaned her head back and closed her eyes.

"No. Not today," she reprimanded herself. "I will not cry today. I will not waste my energy on self pity." She wiped away the few tears that had managed to escape. "I can, and I will beat this! It’s not over. Not like this." Just as Rosanna opened her eyes she saw what appeared to be a dove. "A dove? In this area?" Rosanna stood to be certain.

To her surprise, it was a dove. It dipped a couple of times then began to soar towards the sun. Rosanna marveled at the sight. She wished she had brought her camera out. She sat back down thinking for a moment.

"Is this my sign, Lord? Is this your way of letting me know that you have answered my prayers? That I’m going to be okay?" Rosanna looked into the sky, as if waiting for God to answer her audibly. "C’mon, God, answer me," she whispered. Rosanna bowed her head, wrapping her arms around herself. "I’m not ready to die. Not yet..." She let the tears flow freely.

Rosanna never expected to be facing death at thirty years of age. Not once did it ever cross her mind that her life could possibly end so abruptly. If she had known sooner, she wondered how she might have lived differently. Perhaps she would have taken those trips with her family and spent more time doing the things she really loved. However, she did know the one thing she wouldn’t change— marrying Jonathon. He had been her rock. She knew if he had not been in her life, that she would have ended it once the doctor informed her of the rapidly growing tumor that was in her brain.

Rosanna had experienced painful migraines over the past year. She would pop a few Tylenol and continue with her work. However, they had become more frequent in the past three months and no amount of pills would help. She didn’t want to tell Jonathon. He’d insist on her going to a doctor. She hated doctors and loathed hospitals. One day, Jonathon found her passed out in her studio. After a series of tests and far too many doctors prodding; the result was the same—a brain tumor. The odds were against her—twenty percent chance she would live, although with total memory loss. Eighty percent chance she would die on the table. Either way, it was death. If she did nothing the tumor would continue to grow, killing her quickly. What she needed was a miracle. What she wanted was more time with Jonathon.

Day Three...

Jonathon watched Rosanna from the window for the third day in a row. He didn’t want to disturb her. He knew that sunrises were her favorite time of day. It inspired so many of her portraits and photographs. He watched her as she sat, staring into the sun, and no doubt praying. Jonathon never considered himself a religious person. However, lately he would definitely say he was a praying man. He wondered if there truly was a God. And if there was, why would He allow such a horrible fate to come to Rosanna. She didn’t deserve it.

Rosanna knew that Jonathon was watching her. Even if she hadn’t seen the curtains move, she’d have felt him. It was like that from the first moment they met. She smiled, remembering that day. It was so clear in her mind, as though it were yesterday instead of four years ago. He’d been watching her work for a while, trying to be inconspicuous. She had noticed him when he first came into the park. Jonathon had a kind of swagger to his walk; strong and confident. She pretended not to notice him watching her. After a while, she couldn’t help herself. She could feel a certain energy coming from him. Much like a magnet or a moth to a flame. It was obvious he wasn’t going to make the first move. So she did...

"So, how long are you going to stand there watching me?" Rosanna smiled. "If you’re going to stand there at least give me a hand with my equipment," she said placing a camera into a case.

Jonathon blushed, not knowing how to respond.

"What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?" She turned her full attention to him. "So," she said, tilting her head to the side, "you don’t seem like a pervert! At least I’m not getting a pervert vibe. You know, I can sense a perve from a mile away," she laughed.

Her laughter was like music to Jonathon’s ears. Finally he said, "No. No, I’m not a pervert. Just an admirer of beauty."

Rosanna’s smile grew wider. "Good save, Romeo. So you have a name? I’m Rosanna Hyde," she said extending her hand.

"I’m—I’m Jonathon McDade…"

It was love at first sight for both of them.

Four months later, they were engaged. Married a year later.

Rosanna turned towards the window, her heart filled with ache.

Two days. All I have is two days left with the man that I love. She turned back towards the sun, tilting her head, allowing its heat to warm her face. The tears rolled down her face. She wished she hadn’t put off having children. Jonathon wouldn’t be alone if she had. He’d have a part of her. She shook her head. Had she known, she would have done things a whole lot differently. She always thought she had time. And now, time was almost up.

Day Four...

"Yes, Mama. I know." Rosanna held her hand over the phone and mouthed to Jonathon, "Help me?"

Jonathon took the phone. "Hey, Mama Hyde, how’s it going? I know, I know." He looked at Rosanna, understanding how difficult it had been for her to speak with her parents; especially her mother.

"Yes, Mama. I completely understand. She loves you too. Listen…" his mother-in-law had begun to cry. "Listen Mama, we’ll see you and Dad at the hospital tomorrow. You’re in our prayers, too. Love you." He hung up the phone and stood quiet for a moment.

He looked around the living room at all the photographs, then Rosanna’s favorite chair, wondering if anything would ever be the same after tomorrow.

"Rosanna?" he said walking to the kitchen. Jonathon noticed the back door was open. "Rosanna?" he called, stepping outside.

Sitting quietly in her garden, Rosanna looked at all the beautiful flowers she and Jonathon had planted. She hated knowing that she could possibly wake without any memory of this. Or worse, her loved ones. It pained her greatly. She wondered if she’d be better off if God just let her die than take her memories.

Jonathon walked up behind her, kneeling down. Wrapping his arms around her shoulders, he kissed her hair. He had a surprise for her tonight. Something special he had planned in the gazebo. He kissed her face, lingering for a moment.

"A dollar for your thoughts?" Rosanna whispered, lifting his hands gently kissing them.

"A dollar? What ever happened to a penny?"

"Inflation, Baby. Inflation." They both laughed.

"C’mon. It’s time for your surprise." Jonathon stood first, holding his hands out for her. "No peeking," he said placing a hand over her eyes.

"No fair." Rosanna stretched her hands out in front of her. "I know it’s the gazebo!" She laughed.

"I know you do. I saw you peeking out the window earlier!"

"Oh you’re getting smarter in your old age!" She giggled.

"Ha! Ha! You ready?"

"Born ready."

Jonathon removed his hand. Rosanna stood speechless. She began to cry. Jonathon took her hand and led her up the steps inside the gazebo.

"Oh Jonathon! It’s beautiful." She turned in awe. "You recreated the night you proposed," she cried.

The gazebo was adorned with orchids and blue roses. Moroccan pillows covered most of the floor. Hanging from two beams were lanterns with candles. Rosanna turned to her husband.

"I want to give you hope. I want you to believe just as that night, that we have forever. We cannot give up!"

"I love you so much." Rosanna rushed into her husband’s arms, burying her face in his chest.

"Come," he said taking her hand. He picked up a camera from behind the pillows. "I’m taking a page from your book." Jonathon set the timer and stood next to Rosanna. He squeezed her tightly. "Say, eternity."

Rosanna smiled and said, "Eternity."

Day Five...

Rosanna lay quietly in the hospital bed holding Jonathon’s hand not wanting to let go. "What if this is the last time I see you?" she whispered.

"Shush," he whispered in her ear. "You have to believe, Rosanna." He brushed the hair from her forehead and kissed her. "We’re gonna make it. You hear me, love?" He reassured her, hoping she didn’t notice the fear that gripped his heart.

"I know," Rosanna said, pulling his hand to her face. "I’m scared. What if I don’t remember you, or…"

"You are going to make it. Besides, I have every confidence that I can make you fall in love with me again," he smiled.

Rosanna laughed. "Very sure of yourself, huh?" She loved the way he could quiet her soul. How would he handle it if she died? She thought.

"Of course I’m sure. Because even if you had complete memory loss, you still have the same heart. And that heart," he said touching her chest, "belongs to me… forever."

Rosanna tried not to cry again. "You always know what to say."

"You make it easy, Sweet." Jonathon squeezed his wife’s hand.

"Are we ready, Mrs. McDade?" Two orderlies entered the room.

"As I’ll ever be," she looked at Jonathon, fear gripping her.

"You’ll be all right. Promise..." He kissed her hand as the orderlies disengaged the locks.

Rosanna’s parents stood anxiously as their daughter was being wheeled out.

"Mom, Dad, I love you. Take care of Jonathon for me."

Her parents cried. "We will, baby," her father said, giving her a kiss.

"Yes, baby. Don’t worry…we’ll be wait—" Mrs. Hyde turned to her husband and began to sob into his shoulder. He gently rubbed her back, holding her close.

"I’ll be… right… here…" Jonathon started, but the orderlies had already taken Rosanna through the surgery room doors.

It felt like an eternity passed. Jonathon sat quietly waiting with Rosanna’s parents. After four hours the doctor came out informing them that Rosanna had made it through surgery. She was now in recovery. They would know more once she woke up.

Rosanna’s parents went home to change and to let the family know. Jonathon waited anxiously for twenty-four hours; not leaving Rosanna’s side.

Jonathon nodded off holding Rosanna’s hand when he felt something. He opened his eyes and saw Rosanna looking at him.

His heart leaped. "Ro--Rosanna, how are you feeling?"

Rosanna didn’t answer, her eyes searching Jonathon’s face.

"It’s okay," he said squeezing her hand, believing she had no memory. "I’ll go get the doctor." He started to leave when she squeezed his hand.

"No…" she whispered.

Jonathon froze.

Rosanna struggled. "E--ter--ni--ty," she managed as a tear escaped.

Jonathon fell onto Rosanna crying, kissing her face. It was the most beautiful word he’d ever heard.

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