He always liked her braids tied with yellow and purple ribbons. Said it reminded him of coming home. Dee-Bay put an extra ribbon on the plait laying on her forehead. Today, they would celebrate Christmas.
Days with him flew by quickly. Then, suddenly they would slow down, becoming days of torment and time dragged. The sudden illness impregnated in his mind, which influenced his body movements and robbed him of his memory. One day after another she watched him turn into a shallow hull, dwindling away, disappearing somewhere in a nebulous part space that only he had access to. A place where she couldn’t go.
Pulling her best white dress over her head, she pondered over what the day would bring as she took in the chaos of her bedroom. Scattered clothing, blue, green, yellow, red, and purple ribbons lying on her pillows, and shoes stacked in shoe boxes that she never wore except when she visited him. They reflected the turbulence now embedded in their marriage.
She dreaded the visits. To see him suffer had become unbearable, yet she continued to keep him home, to be that caregiver that he needed. Daily, she headed downstairs to observe the still, silent shell that lay in their guest bedroom. Aware that for a few seconds, minutes, or hours he might return, and laugh, and remember who he once was.
Dee-Bay gazed into the mirror. Each ribbon sat almost perfectly on her head, including the one laying on her forehead. She picked up the box with the letter B and pulled out her blue patent leather shoes and put them on and went to her closet and pulled out the box with the big, thick, white candle with a golden sword carved on it.
After taking a last glance in her mirror, Dee-Bay left her bedroom to check and see if he had decided to return to celebrate Christmas.
With her head filled with a bunch of yellow and purples ribbons, Dee-Bay peeked into the room.
“Dee-Bay,” he said, and his laughter filled the room.
“Yes!” Dee-Bay said excitedly. He’d remembered her name. He’d called her Dee-Bay instead of Yep. No need to play the small theater role that she played every time she entered his room when he forgot who she was. She’d asked, who am I? His eyebrows would furrow, his eyes would crunch together, and he would suck in his cheeks trying hard to remember.
Then she’d sang, “Dee-Dee-Bay, Bay, Bay.”
And he’d say, “Yep, Yep, Yep.”
Dee…Dee…Bay, Bay, Bay,” she’d sang again.
With his deep baritone, he’d repeat, “Yep…Yep…Yep”, as if that were her name.
“Dee-Bay walked into his bedroom with the head full of yellow and purple ribbons tied around her braids bouncing up and down. Recognition flowed between them.
“Does life just disappear,” he asked.
“No,” she’d said. “Life goes on. That’s what I believe.”
He turned to look at her. His gaze burned her soul. He hadn’t recognized her for days.
“How long have I been gone?” he asked.
She took out her mobile and said, “Twenty-one days, eight hours, fifteen minutes and thirty seconds to the tee. I’m surprised you’re here.”
He grinned. “But not for long. It’s time for you to get on with your life.”
“Stop worrying about me.”
“Never. Will you please light the candle?” he asked, impatiently. “It’s Christmas, Dee-Bay.”
Dee-Bay smiled. “Of course, whatever you say, Sir.” She placed the candle on the window ledge and lit it.
“What day is it?” he asked.
“Just want to make sure, it’s Christmas. I’m tired. Just hanging on for Christmas. “
The doctor had told her if he came back at all it would be temporary. That he would drift in and out until he decided that she would be alright without him.
“I must hurry and make you a cup of tea and bring you a piece of the Black Forrest Cake that you love to eat?”
“Yep,” he said. “Ribbon, yellow ribbon. Give me one, Yep.”
Dee-Bay glanced inquiringly at him.
His voice had become slurry, his hands trembled, and his eyes had turned glassy. He was slipping away. “Who am I?”
Her heartbeat doubled. Knowing there was nothing she could do, she reached inside of herself to get the tone that might grab him back from the depth of the dark pit in his mind.
“Dee-Dee-Bay, Bay, Bay,” she sang as she gazed at him looking for some sign of recognition.
“Yep, Yep, Yep,” he sang in his slurred baritone.
“Dee…Dee…Bay, Bay, Bay.”
“Yep…Yep…Yep,” he repeated.
Bay left the room hurriedly to go make the tea before her tears fell. Knowing that he might be gone to his other world when she got back, she stood before the door to the patio overlooking the children’s playground waiting for the tea kettle to whistle.
Shocked to hear his voice in the kitchen, she turned around. “How did you get up? What are you doing in the kitchen?”
“I remembered your name. I’m alright now, Dee-Bay. Thanks. I've got to go.”
Dee-Bay rushed out of the kitchen into his bedroom. There lay his body lifeless in bed. His right hand held her yellow ribbon, and he’d blown the candle out before he departed.
I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a prosperous start in 2019.