Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

How Far Can You Go for Love?

Series title: With or Without You

 

Myra willed herself not to check her phone to see if Ryan has replied. It has been about a week now since he sent his last message. She hated herself for constantly checking his ‘last seen’ status and yes, he had logged in just 5 minutes ago. This sinking feeling on finding absolutely no communication from him was becoming unbearable, almost torturous.

And then, just as Myra sat down in her chair, her phone vibrated. With her heart pounding in her ear, she jumped out from the chair and unlocked her phone. Finally! It was Ryan’s message. But when she opened it and read it, her heart nearly stopped breathing. She could not decide if he was joking.

“What is this?” she muttered to herself as she looked at the message with a frown on her face and placed the phone over the table.

There was barely anything in the message. There was no text, not even a single word, just a winking smiley. “What could this mean?” she wondered.

Contemplating his simple reply, she sat on the chair again.

“Did I make a mistake in saying yes to him so soon? Should I have waited for some more time?” thought Myra. Her thoughts were interrupted again by the sudden vibrations of her phone. In her heart, she knew that it was another message from Ryan.

With her heart racing, she immediately grasped her phone to see the message. There was just a single word—“Yes”.

Immediately following this was a blank message. And soon enough was yet another message that had two words in it, “Now what?”

Myra and Ryan were in love together since last few years. Ryan had just proposed to her via a text message nearly a week back, asking if she would marry him. Myra knew just one thing. Ryan was her world and it would never be possible for her to live without him. However, just to tease him, she had been deliberately slow in giving a reply.

Finally, today after sending her reply, “Yes”, she had been eagerly waiting for his reaction.

She was elated to see that Ryan had finally seen her answer and was now was looking forward to their marriage.

It was a chilly winter afternoon when Myra read Ryan’s message and started dreaming about their wedding.  She felt like a bright spring morning in the midst of the shreds of darkness that had already begun looming the city. She could sense the birds chirping sweetly in her ears amongst the fragrance of the wild spring flowers.

All of a sudden, the strong wind blew open the window. Myra could feel the chill in the air and very quickly, the reality dawned upon her, causing the sparkle in her eyes to fade away. Wrinkles appeared on her forehead. A sharp pang of pain hit her deep in her head. It briefly numbed her and she slumped back on the chair.

She rested the nape of her neck against the cushion of the chair and let the pangs of pain to gradually vanish.

Her mind was going back to the series of events that occurred in the morning. She could see the events unfold before her eyes like a movie.

She was sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s clinic, with the usual hustle around her. The receptionist was on the phone booking the patient’s appointments.  The series of chairs were filled by the patients belonging to all age groups: children, old people, pregnant women and so on. Sound from the general chatter amongst the patients and the nursing staff could be heard rising above the din.

Myra sat there in the middle of these patients staring at the ceiling of the room, waiting for her turn to come. Among the hum of the general chatter, she suddenly heard her name called out by the nurse.

As Myra slowly walked inside the doctor’s room, she realized how much it was in contrast to the waiting room outside. The chaotic sound vanished in a second and there was a pin drop silence. She could even hear the clock ticking inside the doctor’s cabin.

She saw a bespectacled doctor in his mid-fifties or probably early sixties with sparse silvery-grey hair on his head. He was seated on a chair on the other side of the table, deeply engrossed in reading some reports. She approached him and they exchanged greetings. With a strained look on his face, the doctor whispered, “Myra, I have some important news to tell you. Do you want to call someone?”

Quickly, she replied, “No, doctor”.

She sat down on the chair placed across the table from the doctor and waited for him to break the news to her, the intensity of which, she hadn’t realized then.

The doctor was taking an unduly long time, so she started staring at the cream-colored walls of the small cabin.

She had been suffering from a nagging pain in her stomach and back since a past few days. She had not told about it to anyone in her family, not even Ryan. It became scarier to her when the doctor ordered a biopsy.

Thinking about what the biopsy results were, her head was ready to explode into thousand pieces, when she heard the doctor telling her, “Myra, I am afraid the biopsy report is positive.”

Myra turned numb for a few seconds.

“Doctor, that is not possible. How can I have cancer?” Myra heard herself saying. “Cancer occurs in old people. I am too young for that”, she further added looking at the doctor’s warm brown eyes exuding warmth and compassion.

“I understand your situation, but I am afraid you do have cancer in its advanced stage. We have verified it several times,” said the doctor softly.

“Hmmm”, mumbled Myra. Her mind had stopped working now.

“Don’t worry, we shall try to take care of it in the best possible way,”, said the doctor trying his best to console Myra by gently patting on her back.

The growing pain in her head quickly increased in intensity and she felt as if it was vibrating through her head, ready to shatter her skull.

She realized that it was her phone vibrating again. She was brought back to the present on seeing her phone move on the table due to the vibration. With her mind in a turmoil, she took the mobile phone in her hand to read the message.

It was another message from Ryan this time with a question mark. This meant that he wanted her to give an answer soon.

However, she was not sure what to tell him.

Her thoughts were so scattered that she could not grasp any feeling.

Bling, there was another message. It was a blank message that said nothing, not even a smiley.

She realized that Ryan was getting really impatient for her answer.  Now she was even more concerned. She knew that she had to send him a reply fast before he gets irritated and calls her.

She did not think that it would be appropriate to explain things over a phone call.

She was not sure if she was ready to meet him, but this appeared to be the only option she could think of at the moment. So she messaged him to meet at their usual restaurant in some time.

 

She reached the restaurant before Ryan and sat on the chair, waiting for him. In her nervousness, she kept rolling the edge of the table napkin with one hand and kept shuffling it from one hand to the other. So engrossed she was in her thoughts that she never realized when Ryan came inside and sat on the chair just next to her.

Recently, she had been experiencing severe pain in her stomach and she was tested positive for cancer. But how can she tell that straight to his face? She was scared for her own health, but her own problems did not look that big at the moment. What had really become essential for her was Ryan’s feelings. She was unable to muster enough courage to tell him. She had just said yes to him for marriage, but now she knew that she must just let him go. She could not let him suffer due to her illness. She knew she had to let him go because she loved him too much…

“Dreaming about me?” It was Ryan’s voice which suddenly brought her back to reality. He took her hands in his and looked in her eyes. Like always, she could see his love for her in his eyes. Now it became extremely challenging for her to gather the courage to continue looking into his eyes.

She looked down immediately at the napkin in her hand and she simply said, “No, not at all Ryan, just go away. I don’t want to be with you anymore”.

Having uttered these words, Myra felt that the world around her torn apart with the torn pieces slowly falling around her.

Her vision started turning grey and suddenly, she felt a sharp pang of pain in her stomach. “It’s the tumor”, Myra spoke to herself.

Ryan was speechless and just kept looking at her. But she kept looking at the table napkin in her hand instead of looking at his face.

The lighting in the restaurant was dim and the air seemed thick with the aroma of strong coffee. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant that night and it appeared to be unusually silent.

However, the movement of waiters, the restaurant staff and the clatter of cutlery could be clearly heard. Amidst the usual sounds of the restaurant, Ryan could hear Myra’s soft sobs.

Her beautiful eyes were now wet and were looking down while she nervously continued to roll the table napkin between her trembling fingers. Her soft sobs continued and he looked extremely perplexed.

“Myra, I have long loved you, but was never sure if you wanted to marry me. So I asked you and you said yes and made me the happiest man on earth. Now you want me to go away from your life, but you still cry. I clearly don’t understand you”, Ryan said, feeling completely lost.

Myra tried to say firmly, “Ryan, I think I took a hasty decision initially. Now I have clearly considered and made my decision”.

“I would love you unconditionally till eternity. I shall always be there for you”, said Ryan looking into her eyes.

Myra felt like hugging Ryan at the moment, but averted her eyes and decided to stay firm, “No, Ryan. I have really thought about it, I am sure about this.”

“Look, Myra, if there is anything I can do to make you reconsider your decision, I’ll do it. Please spend some time with me so that I can find out what the problem is and rectify the situation”, said Ryan trying hard not to sound desperate.

Now it became extremely tough for Myra to control herself. It was becoming a Himalayan task for her to sustain the fortress of strength she had tried to build around herself. She was starting to crumble and realized that she would not be able to control herself any longer.

“Myra, I can sense that something is wrong. Please tell me what is”, pleaded Ryan

Myra kept looking at the napkin in her hand. Her sobs had now become louder.

“Myra, don’t underestimate the power of our love. True love has the power to make our lives beautiful. It may help you deal with whatever problem you have. Let me help you deal with any problem you have”, said Ryan reaching out to hold Myra’s hand.

She allowed him to wrap his fingers over her hand.  Amidst her increasing sobs, she, in turn, held Ryan’s hand very tightly intertwining her fingers with his.

Ryan realized that Myra was on the verge of a breakdown. Though he didn’t know what it was, he was trying his best to calm her down.

Myra’s eyes watered in agony. She could hardly see Ryan’s face with a misty, teary veil surrounding her eyes. Trying to sound as normal as possible, she uttered, “Ryan, I have cancer. Since it is at an advanced stage, I may not live very long. I don’t want to spoil your life. I think we should part our ways when we still have time.”

For a moment, Ryan grew extremely silent, his face became grim and his grip of Myra’s hand loosened. This was not the problem he expected Myra to say. He was totally unprepared for such a massive trial to his true love. Once he realized the intensity of the situation, he gripped Myra’s hand even more tightly. He gently embraced her with his other hand and lightly kissed on her forehead.

Softly Ryan spoke, “Myra, you have not understood my love for you. The true test to a person’s love is the hurdles and the barriers they are ready to battle in the face of love.”

Myra wasn’t ready to hear his words and tried to free her hand from his grip. She said, “Ryan, you know the truth now. You can leave me.”

Ryan grabbed her hand again quickly and said, “Myra, I cannot even think about living without you. No matter whatever little life you have, we shall be together. I don’t doubt for one second that the life we lead together is going to be the most beautiful one in spite of our troubles. Only time can tell us how far we both can go for love, you in your fight for life and me in my fight to be with you as long as I can.”

The pain in Myra’s stomach had now become quite severe. Trying to sound as normal as possible, Myra said, “Ryan, I am not scared of the pain or death because I will have to bear it myself. What scares me the most is that you are also going to suffer with me every day. We both may sleep together one night and you may find out the next morning that I am no more.”

With much difficulty, Myra gasped in a voice that was barely audible, “Ryan, I know that the tumor had already started spreading. Slowly, it would grow and spread further, eventually consume every bit of my body and ripping apart my body organs along with my beauty”.

Before he could reply, Ryan suddenly realized that the grip of Myra’s hand had loosened and her hand had turned cold.  He was sitting very close to her and could hear her loud heartbeat. She appeared to be in extreme pain and was clutching her belly with one hand.

Myra could feel her heart beating loudly against her rib cage. There was a terrible ache in her stomach, which was tearing her apart. She tried to massage the affected area with her other hand but in vain.

The growing pain in her belly appeared to be bruising her from inside. She tried taking a sip of water and clenching her throat because swallowing water and tightening her neck muscles appeared to provide relief from pain.

Finding himself helpless, Ryan frantically tried calling an ambulance for help.

However, Myra’s face started turning pale, the corners of lips started quivering, beads of cold sweat appeared on her forehead and she had started curling up on the chair.

She realized she was collapsing, but she tried to make one last effort to remain conscious for Ryan’s sake, for their sake.

The more effort she tried to put into it, the heavier her eyelids became and now it was almost impossible to keep them open.

She felt the world becoming dim before her eyes and Ryan could see her lose consciousness completely.

A few hours later…..

Myra tried opening her swollen eyes to see a blurred figure. As she widened her eyes, she realized that the hazy face was of Ryan’s who was carefully looking at her.

His face was lit up with a bright smile when he realized that Myra had regained her consciousness. Myra took in the surroundings and realized that she was in the hospital.

As soon as Myra’s eyes were fully open, Ryan said, “Myra, I would always be right here with you, by your side. Today, at this very moment without any delay, I want to hand you my heart with the promise that I will be with you even in the presence of storms. Your heart is already with me and I will always keep it safe.”

With this, Ryan silently slipped his hand in his pocket and took out a box. He quickly opened the box and took out the ring it contained. He slipped it over Myra’s ring finger before she could realize what was happening.

Myra was too overwhelmed with feelings. She wanted to get up and hug Ryan but was too weak to sit upright on her bed. She kept lying on the hospital bed with tears flowing from the corner of her eyes on to the sides of her face. Ryan lovingly wiped her tears away and gave her a warm hug nuzzling his face in the nape of her neck.

Her physical pain was unbearable but Myra felt her all her troubles melt away.

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