A school assessment I handed in to my homophobic teacher (which got highest mark possible :) ).
Each ragged intake of breath damaged my soul as much as it was damaging his body. It was disquieting, sitting in the dark room listening to nothing but continuous rasping. My eyes, fixed on his trembling chest, began to blur and slide out of focus. I hung my head, filled with the knowledge that this was it. The love of my life was finally going to lose his arduous battle. And there was not a thing anyone in the world could do about it.
I met Jim on a sweltering hot day in January twenty three years ago, almost to the day. No fairytale story, just the both of us working on an apricot orchard in Central Otago. It was a long hot summer and our relationship grew from shared beer and cigarettes by the lakeside. I had never met anyone like Jim before. But as clichéd as it sounds, by the end of that summer I knew there would never be anyone else for me.
Our relationship certainly had its ups and downs. We were different people, Jim and I. But good people. Good people who loved each other deeply. Jim knew how to get around me anyway; one flash of his cheeky grin and he could get away with murder. But in spite of our problems, we always knew we were perfect for each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband than the one I found in Jim.
Three years and two months ago, we found out about Jim’s disease. That day took everything from us. Our hopes, our dreams, our future together. We were so grateful for the twenty wonderful years we had spent together, yet we felt so cheated. We were going to try and start a family, but there was no point now. I would never manage on my own. Not without Jim.
Jim tried to be a man and put a positive spin on things. He would say that it was all okay and he would live a while yet. The false enthusiasm in his voice barely covered the obvious pain and fear. I used to hear him crying at night, when he thought I was sleeping, whimpering “It’s all my fault. All my fault