A blast from the past that has a tragic end
Jordan watched her friend of 20 years lay on his death bed, he was pale and thinner than she had ever remembered and his eyes were cloudy. He was in a lot of pain and she tried not to cry because deep down she felt so sad to see Michael dying. For as long as she knew him he had been a funny guy who had always made her smile. Now he needed her to make him smile one last time but how could she do that when she knew the only thing that could make him smile was the love of his life, the mother of his daughter. She was the one that got away, the one that hated him and never wanted to see his face again.
"She won't come!" one of their mutual friends said in a gruff voice.
"She will come...she has to." Michael replied. So sure that his love would not fail him, he believed that in the end she would be the one holding his hand and he had always voiced that when his emotions took over him.
All Jordan knew about their relationship was that they had been in love, they had a child and it all ended in an ugly mess after years of playing cat and mouse. She wanted his committed heart while he wanted a free life with no strings attached. He loved her but could never love her the way she wanted to be loved. His insecurities made him treat Nikki very harshly and every time that she didn't abide by his rules, he would leave her stranded and confused. Their circle of madness continued for years until Nikki finally saw Michael as a gigolo, man-whore and decided that she wanted nothing to do with him.
"Call her!" Michael said, he was pleading and Jordan could not take it anymore.
She pulled out her phone and dialled Nikki's number, she never called her but for some reason, she had the number on her phone, maybe she always knew deep down that someday she would need to call her. She waited while the phone rang and her heart pounded not sure how she would tell Nikki that Michael was dying.
"Hello..." she heard Nikki say.
"Nikki, hi it is Jordan."
"Hi, Jordan how are you?"
"I am well thanks, listen I have some news can you talk?" Jordan asked.
"Yeah sure, what is up?" Nikki asked. Jordan could tell that she was surprised to hear from her, after all, they were not friends, they just knew off each other.
"It's about Michael," Jordan replied
"What about him?" Nikki asked and Jordan could hear the coldness in her voice.
"He is dying in hospital, Nikki, and the doctor has given him about two hours to live." Jordan waited to hear if Nikki would reply and then she continued.
"He wants to see you. He wants to see Katrina. Please come." Jordan said and hung up. She was afraid that Nikki would refuse to come and she didn't have the heart to tell her friend that his dying wish would remain just a dream.
As Jordan looked around, she felt her heart sink. Michael had been a popular guy, who was always there for friends and family but in the end, there were not many people who cared enough to show up. The only people who had bothered was his only son Zac, his mother and sister and a three other close friends. This was his life, his final moments were defined by these last two hours. This was how Michael would be remembered and these were the few people who cared about him. Everything he had done, every person he had spent his time with didn't matter anymore
I am not sure why my tummy feels like I swallowed a thousand butterflies. I woke up feeling this way and I just cannot place my finger on what it is that has me so dazed this particular morning. I peep into Katrina's room and she is in the shower. I make my way downstairs and put on the coffee machine. We love our morning coffee, I always say that the first cup of coffee will determine the rest of the day.
I roll my hair into a bun and pin it in place with a toothpick because I am not running up the stairs just for a hairband. I pull out the frying pan and waffle maker. I get the eggs ready, fry the bacon and make two waffles for us. As I turn off the stove my phone rings.
The conversation leaves me stoned faced, I'm shocked and I have no words. Katrina comes down and asks,
"Mum, what is wrong?"
"Nothing, come eat your breakfast," I quickly rush through breakfast without saying a word. I run upstairs to change and tell Katrina we need to go.
"Mum you are freaking me out."
"I know baby and I'm sorry but please trust me and come along."
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what is going on."
"Your father is in hospital and Jordan said that he doesn't have much time to live. We need to go see him... Please." I say as I watch her eyes widen.
She doesn't say anything else. I take her hand and kiss it then I pull her with me as we lock up and leave home. I can't drive there, I just can't. I have too much on my mind. I call a taxi and as we drive there I am so glad I did.
Within seconds my mind wanders back to the day I first met Michael. He came to the doctor where I worked. He was sick and I was on duty. I will never forget that day. He seemed like he was staring into my soul and for a long time I stared back at him. Wondering who he was and why I had never seen him before. It took him a few weeks and a few doctors' visits to get my number. I knew it wasn't a good idea based on the homework I did on him but the heart wanted what the heart wanted. After the number exchange began the long whirlwind romance that left me believing that I was never made to fall in love. I didn't believe in love anymore because my heart had turned to stone the day that Michael destroyed my dreams and turned his back on Katrina and I. For fifteen years I had waited and even forgiven his many misdeeds, from abandoning me when I was pregnant to verbally abusing me years later. Then one day I woke up and realized that I was delusional, I understood that my love was never enough for him and he would never change his womanizing ways. He took everything I had and I could never allow myself to feel that much pain again but then why was I going to the hospital, why did I feel like my heart was about to break out of my chest the moment I heard that Michael was dying?
"She is here!" Michael whispered
"It must be the medication," Jordan said to ease the tense look on his mother's face.
"She isn't here Michael and I don't think she is coming," Jordan replied trying to make him accept reality.
"I can smell her perfume," Michael said with a weak smile.
"Michael, do not do this to yourself," Jordan replied.
"There she is." He replied and pointed to the door.
Michael smiled on as everyone turned to the door. Jordan looked to her feet in despair and then looked up as the room erupted with gasps of surprise and whispers. As she turned to the door, Nikki and Katrina entered the room. They both looked pale and concern filled their eyes. Jordan wondered if Nikki hated Michael, why would she come to the bedside of a dying man if there wasn't any love inside her heart for him.
Jordan watched as they made their way to the side of his bed, she watched as Michael's eyes light up and his lips curled into a smile, he reached out but didn't have the strength to hold his hand up. Tears slipped down the side of his face and in that moment Jordan knew that heard friend had carried the pain of losing his love inside him for a long, long time.
He had loved Nikki with all his heart but pride and greed had separated him from the life he could have had. He chose to live a life of parties and fun. Woman, alcohol, and drugs. The things he was well known for. Excessive spending on a new girlfriend every month, gambling and experimenting with things that cost him his real family. Zac moved closer to the bed and he watched his father with deeply concerned eyes. Jordan wondered what Zac was feeling, Michael hadn't been a great father to him but at least he had spent some time with Michael. They had some good times and some bad times. Lots of fighting and then Zac disappeared out of Michaels life. Michael had point-blank refused to look for Zac and said that if Zac needed him, he knew where to find him. Katrina, on the other hand, had not spent much time with her father. Between all Michael and Nikki's disputes, it was Katrina that suffered the most. Every time that Michael has walked out on Nikki, he had walked out on his daughter too. When he refused to take of Katrina, he thought that he was punishing Nikki, but what he didn't realize was that Katrina was watching his every move and when he hurt her mother, he hurt her. She then closed her heart of too him and just refused to have anything to do with him. Michael always blamed Nikki for Katrina hating him but Jordan knew that he had failed his daughter, she just never had the heart to tell him so.
Back in time
As I stand at Michael's side my mind wanders back...way back to when it all began. When I didn't know any better. When I still believed that some rebel was going to ride into town and rescue me from my boring life. Unfortunately, my rebel came in the form of a stubborn, egotistical gangster who only did what pleased himself.
Right from our first meeting to the last time we had seen each other Michael had held me on a rope of craziness. The moment our eyes met for the first time, I wanted nothing else and no one else. Each time I saw him I felt things that I only read about in romance novels. He was good-looking and dressed smart but it was the way he smelt that had me going weak at my knees. Every time he entered the room, his cologne would fill my nose and I would fall into his arms like a ragdoll.
"Is it true that you are getting married?" He asked me one day out of the blue.
"Yes, unfortunately, I am," I replied not aware that my reply would change the course of my life forever.
Shortly after that, he asked for my number, then began the long exchange of messages and chocolate drop-offs at my office. He would give me a ride home and sometimes we would take long walks just talking.
"I think you are in love with me." He said after a couple of weeks.
"I don't know," I replied.
"What is going to happen to me when you get married?" He asked me.
I could not answer his question because I didn't even know if I was going to get married anymore. Every night I would try to process the feelings I felt for him and the harder I tried the worst I felt. I had even asked my fiancto give me some space and a break so that I could think. He wasn't too happy but he respected my decision. Finally, I called off the wedding, it was sad but I had to. After meeting Michael I knew that I could never forget him, I could never get married and pretend I didn't feel anything for him. He had grown on me and I wanted to know, I wanted to know if we could be something, anything and I knew that I just needed to take the risk.
The very next day I called Michael and told him that I had called off my marriage.
"I knew you were in love with me." He said.
"What happens now?" I asked.
"You ask me out." He replied.
"Will you go out with me?" I ask.
"Ask me out on your knees." He said with a laugh.
At that point it was funny, what I didn't know then was that Michael would lead me to my knees in the end and I would remain there for the rest of my life.
"I am sorry," Michael said as he looked at the glum faces around him.
"I know I haven't been a good father to any of you and Nikki I wasn't fair to you but I love all of you." Michael continued.
Michael looked to his children, hoping to see a sign of forgiveness or a sign that they do love their father. Zac was a stoned face, he was a young man and according to him, men didn't cry. Their relationship was strained from the word go and Michael could never make Zac see his love. Katrina was pale. Her face is set in a grim line. She never cried for anyone or anything. Watching her mother cry for years had changed her. She looked away from her father's gaze and stared at the wall. She didn't even know why she was there, this was the man that had left her mother while she was pregnant, he was the man who waltzed in and out of her mother's life as well as hers and never felt bad about it. He never did anything of value for her, all he ever did was make her mother cry and for that very reason, she felt nothing for him.
Michael then turned his attention to Nikki. She had told him many times in the years that had past that in his final moments she would be the only woman at his side. She was right, he never met anyone that loved him the way she had. There had been plenty of women, plenty to warm his bed and enjoy his days with but none had touched his soul the way she had.
"I will always love you, Nikki, even death cannot take that from me. Thank you for allowing me to see you one last time." He said as tears dripped down the sides of his face.
"I never meant to hurt you, I thought I had enough time and I believed that when I was done having fun you would be there waiting for me. The hardest day of my life was the day I realized that I lost you forever. The truth is my soul died way back then, this is just my body punishing me for everything I have done." He reached out for Nikki's hand and closed her eyes, pain shot threw her but she let him hold her hand.
Michael could see that Nikki was fighting her feelings, she vowed that she would never cry for him ever. She told him that this would happen, that even if he was dying she would never shed a tear for him. He had destroyed her belief in love and she hated him for that. He didn't blame her anymore seeing the pain on her face was more than he could bear.
Nikki felt the water drip down her face and she cursed under her breath. Even after all the years apart Michael still found a way to make her cry. The truth was, she never forgot him and amid her hate for him, she still loved him very much. He had been her great love story and also her great tragedy. Their union had given her Katrina. The source of her happiness came from the smile on their daughters face. How could she hate him when he was a part of their child? She didn't hate him, she hated what he did to her, she hated how he made her cry and she hated how he always left her and here he was doing it all over again, leaving her.
"You and I, we are rebels, we have the same tattoo. We linked for life." He said squeezing her hand. Nikki smiled, many years he had told her the same thing when she got her REBEL tattoo, the same as his. It was her reminder of what love felt like to her, of what she wanted it to feel like and when they parted ways it reminded her of what she would never put herself through again.
For fifteen she had loved him, for fifteen years she had waited for him and even prayed that he would come back to her. She hoped he would see how much she loved him but he never looked back. Finally, she gave up and closed that door hoping to never see him again. Now as she stood staring at him, she felt her heartbreak a million times more.
"Michael, the past is over and we forgive you." Nikki finally said as she wiped her tears away.
"I loved you then, I love you still and I will always love you. You have the best part of me with you, Katrina." He replied as he looked at Katrina.
Nikki pulled the kids into her arms and they said in union,
"We forgive you."
"Good bye my loved ones!" Michael closed his eyes with a smile on his face as he took his last breath.