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The Air He Breathes: Epilogue


Five Years Later

Under the wooden dining room table that Emma had helped me build, I saw the three of them sleeping. They’d transformed the table into a fort, the same way they did every Saturday night when we watched movies and camped out inside our house. Emma claimed to be too old to play make-believe anymore, but when her baby brother, Colin, asked her to play, she couldn’t say no.

Colin was handsome, and very much his mother’s son. He laughed like her, cried like her, and loved like her too. Each time he kissed my forehead, I knew I was the luckiest man alive.

I crawled under the table next to my beautiful wife and placed my lips against her growing stomach. Within a few weeks we would be bringing yet another miracle into the world. We would be adding yet another beauty to our family.

For a long time, I just stared at Lizzie, Emma, and Colin. Zeus joined us underneath the table too, snuggling under Emma’s arm. How had I gotten a second chance at life? How had I become so happy? I remembered the moment I’d died. I remembered sitting in the hospital room when the doctor told me Charlie was gone. I’d left that day too. Life stopped existing, and I stopped breathing.

Then Elizabeth came and resurrected me. She breathed life into my lungs, making the dark shadows flood with light. A light so bright that I slowly began to believe in happily ever todays. No more pains of yesterdays, no more fears of tomorrow. In that moment, I stopped replaying the past and didn’t choose to reach for the future. Instead, I chose us as we were. I chose today.

Some days were still hard, and others, the easiest. We loved in a way that only brought more love. During the light days, we held each other close. During the dark days, we held each other closer.

I lay beside Elizabeth, wrapping her against my body, and she pulled in closer to me. Her brown eyes opened, and her sweet smile rose on her lips. “Are you good?” she whispered.

I kissed her earlobe and nodded once. “I’m good.”

Her eyes faded closed, and I felt her exhale against my lips. With each exhale, I took in her breath, I drank her into me, realizing that she was mine. Forever and always, no matter what the future may hold. Each day, I longed for her. Each day, I loved her more. As my eyes faded and her hands lay against my chest, I knew life was never truly broken; it was simply bruised some days, and bruises healed with time. Time was able to make me whole again.

My children were my best friends. All of them. Charlie, Emma, Colin, and the unnamed angel resting within my beautiful wife’s stomach. They were all so smart, so funny, and so deeply loved. I knew it made no sense, but sometimes when I looked into Emma’s eyes, I could almost see Charlie smiling my way, telling me he and Jamie were okay.

Then there was Elizabeth.

The beautiful woman who loved me when I didn’t deserve to be loved. Her touch healed me, her love saved me. She was more than any words could ever convey.

I treasured her.

I cherished her for everything she was, and everything she wasn’t. I cherished her in the sunbeams and in the shadows. I cherished her loudly, I cherished her with whispers. I cherished her when we fought, I cherished her when we were peaceful.

It was quite obvious what she was to me, it was so clear why I always wanted her near.

She was simply the air I breathed.

As I fell asleep under that wooden table, my children snuggling against their mama and me, I laid my lips against my wife’s and kissed her gently. “I love you,” I whispered.

She smiled in her dreams.

Because she already knew.


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