Brett’s face was turned toward me with a plaintive look, but I was lost in thought and hadn’t heard the question. Or maybe it was something else. I looked down at my feet, marveling at their smallness, and wondering how they could possibly hold up the rest of my body. I felt awed by all of the little muscles and impulses and bones that made them work. What would the bones look like without everything else?
“What was that? What are you thinking about?”
“It wasn’t nothing. C’mon.”
“Ok. Do you think when I die, and my body decomposes, I’ll be able to feel it somehow?”
“I don’t think you’ll be with your body, Dyl. I think you’ll be someplace else.”
“But what if like, my brain takes longer to die, and I end up trapped inside my decomposing body?”
“I don’t think so,” Brett said quietly, “but you could always be cremated.”
“Yeah. That’s a good idea.”
“It’s what you want, then?”
“I think so… Yeah. Yeah. Do it. Cremate me.”
“Ok. Where should I scatter your ashes?”
“I don’t know. I only want to be with you, you know?”
“I know, Love. I want to be with you too, but it seems we don’t get to choose this time.”
“Could you take some of my ashes and put them in a locket near your heart? That’s where I want to live.”
“I will, but you already live there.” He took my hand in his and brushed my fingers with his lips. “You have to know you always will.” Tears formed in his bright blue eyes, amplifying them in a way that melted my feeble heart. I squeezed his hand in return.
“You’ll go on. You’re still young. I want you to live and love and do all the things you haven’t been able to since I’ve been sick.” The tears flowed freely now, but I knew he wouldn’t lose control, not while I was still here. “Brett… I need you to promise.” He shook his head. “You have to. It’s the only way I’ll be at peace.”
He took a great gulp of air and swiped at the tears with his free hand. “I don’t know if I can. I think… I think I might fall apart without you.”
“Then fall apart, but only for a minute, ok. After that, promise me you’ll live your life and be happy.”
He nodded. “I’ll try.”
“No ‘try.’ You need to promise.”
“Ok. I promise.”
I knew he was lying, but I also knew he’d remember making the promise and try to keep his word. It was the best I could do. I felt so helpless to ease his pain. I pulled his hand up to my mouth, kissed it, and placed it under my cheek. “My final resting place, Brett’s heart. It’s better than heaven.”
He smiled slightly through his tears, and I closed my eyes to burn the memory into my heart.