“shittynarrator” kindly narrated this story:
I have never seen two people as much in love as Dustin and Kayla. They met at work and from their first kiss on did everything together. They spent the nights in the same bed, the days in the same office, the meals at the same table, the evenings with the same friends, in the same bars and clubs and they were planning the rest of their lives together.
My brother had loved his previous girlfriends Lynell and Marie too, but neither of them even remotely as much as Kayla. Occasionally he still talked about his exes, told me how they were doing or that Lynell and Marie were still looking as great as they had looked when he first met them. But there wasn’t any love in his voice anymore, just a factual description of their lives the way most men and women keep an interest in the lives of the people they shared beds with in the past.
His voice only gained color when he talked about Kayla. The way he talked about her brown hair and the tiny pointed nose was a constant reminder of what I kept missing.
For me it’s a conscious decision to avoid love. I don’t want to be like my father and brother – consumers and keepers of love. From all I learned it is unhealthy to love. I would never judge my father and brother for the way they love with deep passion and commitment, but I cannot imagine a life like theirs. I like to stay alone, not constantly see memories of a past love in my bed or wardrobe or garage.
But truly, honestly, I was jealous of Dustin. What he had with Kayla and what Kayla had with him was a thing that most humans will never even be able to imagine.
I remember his laughing phone call, the smile that I heard in his voice.
“She said yes!”
He asked me to be his best man. That day, despite all the joy I felt about their love, a lost longing came back and shattered the remains of my soul.
Kayla had just begun the wedding planning when she began to have stomach cramps. Her crying phone call came only four weeks after Dustin’s laughing phone call. She didn’t say much, except “short time” and the one word that describes best why I don’t want to love. My family has this special talent that love can never be happy.
“Metastasis,” she said.
If you want to understand what love means you need to see what it takes to care for a loved one whose body every day becomes grayer and heavier.
Together they quit their jobs. Together they stopped seeing friends. Together they sat in their little apartment, day in and day out, while Kayla’s body filled with chunks of a dark gray matter.
No cure. No chance of survival.
Dustin did everything he could to maintain their love, to make their love eternal. Dustin suggested it, but it was Kayla’s request to keep her parents away. She wanted them to remember her as she had been before – happy, pink-skinned and energetic rather than exhausted, gray-skinned and stiff.
I always tried to imagine what went on in her head – how her soul must have been crushed at the thought that one day she said “yes” to eternal love and only four weeks later she heard that eternal, for her, would be only three months.
Kayla accepted her fate with a courage that surprised me. After that one crying phone call I never heard or saw her cry again. I think it was that, like any healthy human, the last thing she wanted was to be pitied. My father and I were the only ones they allowed to visit; Dustin promised Kayla that we would understand and that we would not pity her. Dustin told her how his and my mothers, too, had died of cancer. He told Kayla how hard it had been on him to watch his own mother die, and, at the same time, how it had made each of us stronger.
He was right. Watching my mother die had been the most painful, crushing and enlightening experience of my life. Seeing her stiff body in the bed and then in the wooden box had taught me why I should never love. ´
For Dustin the lesson had been different. He had been older than me when he became a half-orphan. He hadn’t just heard her pained moans and seen her slow death. Dustin had also heard the soothing voice of our father at her bedside and seen the tears and the smile on her face.
While mom’s death taught me that I should never love, Dustin learned from losing his mother that he should love with passion and without fear or limitations.
Seeing mom’s pale and stiff face in the bed and the wooden box taught me that I never wanted to live like my father. Dustin saw her lips frozen into a smile and learned that he wanted to be exactly like dad.
I think that’s why he loved Kayla so deeply and why he cared for her with so much affection. While dad stroked Kayla’s face even he remarked how much Kayla’s dark hair and pale skin looked like the face that laughed at him every day, framed inside the glass cabinet in his bedroom.
It was hard for me to be his best man. I had renounced love and still Dustin wanted me to help him and Kayla to eternalize their love. Of course, Kayla didn’t know about it. It was meant to be a surprise to her, something to keep the smile on her face in the last days before her death.
She said “yes” a second time and Dustin slowly placed the ring on her finger. I helped Kayla place the ring on his. There even was a priest, an old family friend that made the whole ceremony official. He had also been the one to make the other ceremonies official, all those that my family had asked from him.
Seeing the cold smile on the priest’s face reminded me why I never would have wanted his services. But there are not many that do what he does – to come into a couple’s home and wed them just before death. There are not many priests that can accept being surrounded by medical machinery and the smell of death while they complete the supposedly most important day in a woman’s life.
Two days later Kayla’s body was completely stiff. For another two days I still had the feeling as if she was alive inside the cold body – her eyes still seemed moist and the forced smile on her lips occasionally seemed to shiver.
But Dustin and dad were already further than that. They washed her body and prepared her body for the funeral. They placed it in a wooden box, just like the one in which I most vividly remember my mother.
Some might think it morbid, but being friends with the owner of a funeral parlor can be important on the most difficult days in one’s life. The other guests, not even Kayla’s parents, knew that she had married Dustin just before her death. They all stared at the urn as a symbol of a life lost too young and with too little love.
My father and brother kept their masks up for long. I had to leave early to prevent myself from screaming at the audience that their suffering was just because of the love; that our family was a cursed one that should never be allowed to love.
I wanted to scream at them that our family was a curse that had cost Kayla’s life – but I didn’t. Despite all the love I deny myself there are still two people that I cannot stop loving. There are too many memories of seeing my father hugging the lifeless body of my mother; just the same way that Dustin hugged Kayla’s lifeless body.
I am glad that Dustin doesn’t have children. I hope the curse dies with our generation.
The reception was at Kayla and Dustin’s apartment. It gave her family a chance to say goodbye and to feel how she had spent her last hours. I caught Kayla’s mother sitting on the bed where Kayla had died. She didn’t know that the sheets were still unchanged. Still I think the scent of her own daughter was what made her cry so bitterly.
I felt my stomach cramp while Kayla’s parents hugged my brother goodbye. They thanked him for loving and caring for her so much. They took most of Kayla’s belongings home but just like dad had done when each of our mothers died Dustin kept some of her dresses.
A week after the funeral Dustin and my father came to my apartment. They looked cheerful with their smiles of men that know what love is.
I helped them load the boxes of past love in the truck.
The first box was the lightest. When Lynell’s box was in the car we carefully stacked Marie’s box on top. For a moment the lid slid off. I hadn’t seen Marie’s pale face in so long that I had to turn away. In retrospect I think it was the veil that made it worse, the veil that so nicely framed her sweet face and dark hair.
Kayla’s box was still heavy. It takes time for the bodies to dry properly.
They didn’t ask me to come along. They know that I tolerate their love but that I don’t aid it. I was just a child when my mother died, but I still love her too much as to accept love again.
So I help passively. I store their past loves when they find new love. But I don’t help them open the boxes. I don’t help them move the contents into the glass cabinets in their bedrooms.
Dustin and dad always tell me that they feel love whenever they see the faces of the women they loved. But when I see my mother’s pale face with the forced smile I only feel pain.
The four cabinets in my father’s bedroom and the three cabinets in Dustin’s bedroom only remind me that I don’t want their love.
The day my mother died I decided that I can’t continue the curse. I don’t want to love.
Still I know that I am like my father and brother. It is a curse, a family curse that makes me feel pleasure when I look through the glass at Kayla’s gray face.
Last week I met this woman that I can’t stop thinking about. She has an honest laugh and perfect skin and cute eyes. I know I should stop seeing her. I know I should somehow stop the tickling sensation in my chest and stomach.
I just can’t.
Whenever I close my eyes I see her face. In my mind she looks pretty and perfect. I can just see how nice she would look with a smile, pale skin and calm eyes, standing in a glass cabinet right next to my bed.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.