I am caught between trying to console her with words and letting her let it all out, somehow "there, there now" just doesn't seem adequate. I'm completely inept. This is not something you can practice for. I feel less effective than her pillow might be at a time like this. I'm afraid to hold her because she is breathing so vehemently, I don't know what do, I can't hold her tight, for fear of constricting her lungs. I can't tell her everything will be alright, because everything has changed - everything is something else from here on out. I'm not one to offer trite reaffirmations.
I'm not crying, though my eyes ache from resisting. I have to be strong, for her. She heaves silently. She's shivering, all her body, exhausted from mourning, heat escaping with each labored breath, I feel it warming my neck. Each arduous tear, I can feel soaking my dress shirt collar. She is in total anguish and I can do nothing but steady her, lower her as she crumbles to her knees. She nestles against me in a fetal position and draws her arms between our chests to warm them and draws a deep breath between sobs.
Now she ventures to speak. Her words are fragmented and inaudible. Sheer emotion takes over where her voice fails, she breaks down again and I am hit with a pang of agony. Those dammed tears are now gushing, my lungs heave out of sync with hers. An aching sets in, spreading throughout me, icing my bones over. My lungs offer to explode. My throat contorts, as if somehow it knows that my well-meaning words won't suffice, so it squelches them.
I want to draw her closer-crush her against me- I can't bear to see her like this. I feel as if I'll never be able to show her enough how I love her. I realized now, in this moment, that life is too short for words. Even so, she is killing me. If I can love her enough, she will stop her tortured sobbing. If I can hold her head to my chest I can smother her, no more pain. I tighten my embrace. She breathes out with a groan and I take up the slack in her ribcage. She starts to struggle but then seems to welcome it. I know she doesn't want to feel this pain anymore. She whimpers her consent and kisses my shoulder hard. I hold her even closer and kiss her head.
The wind has picked up just enough to shake the droplets from this morning's rain off of the leaves above us and it comes down in sloppy splatters on our already damp clothes and bodies.
I can feel her heart struggling for room to throb. Her belly is pulsing slightly in attempts to draw in a breath. But her lungs are steadily contracting and I feel the last bit of warm breath subside, and immediately my skin begins to cool off.