Harold Floch

“She’ll be on life support the rest of her life,” said the nurse.

Harold Floch’s eyes were baggy and red. He had been at the hospital for a week and a half now. His wife Abby had just got her heart beat back just a moment ago for the third time. Harold nodded his head and with a small smile and voice told the nurse thank you. She left Harold to walk slowly to the arm chair next to his wife Abby, each third shuffled step was made by his aluminium cane.

He sat in the armchair looking straight forward, without a sound. A line of tears each took their turn brushing his cheek. He picked up the rose in the arrangement next to him and began to pluck the petals.

As he plucked he thought of his sixty years of marriage with Abby. He remembered the last day they were together and conscious he thought. He laughed at what he was planning on doing that day. He had her dress in khakis that morning. He had bought Abby a safari hat at a garage sale the day before. They were dressed as tour guides, headed to pick up some grandchildren and take them on a safari adventure at the zoo.

He kept plucking the petals off the rose.

He also remembered talking during the drive about Charlie, another grandchild, who had been struggling with drugs. I promised Abby I was going to call him he recalled. He set the rose down and called Charlie.

Words were spent between the two and somewhere in the middle of the conversation they both were laughing which settled down into a silence. Then Charlie spoke. “Grandpa, why are you calling me? Grandma’s … you’re laughing. Aren’t you mad... mad at...”

“Charlie, grief is the natural by-product of love. Even if I had greater love I could not avoid grief. That’s why some people avoid love, because it’s inseparable from greif. Don’t avoid love, Charlie, that is where I’ve found true strength.” Harold let it hang in the air. He told a few more jokes, wrapped up the conversation and saved the best for last. “Love ya’ Charlie ... bye.”

He put the phone down and then picked the flower up to pluck more petals and migrate more memories. Harold got down to the last petal, but before he plucked it his heart strings were struck with the monotone heart monitor. Noises and nurses rushed about for the fourth time. Harold, still in the armchair, stoic and with wet eyes, felt greif. His throat tightened and he clenched his teeth. His knuckles turned white and he started to shake the cane in his fist, but no one heard or noticed him. They were saving Abby. He could not. Harold’s knuckles had their red hue return. He stood up and placed the rose with a single petal on the chair behind him and left it behind him as he walked slowly down the hall.