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R. Burrow

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Marty's Birthday/Marty's Death
By R. Burrow
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Someone who needs to be remembered. Immortalized.

04-23-1954 to late November-2008. I decided it was Nov. 28th. The obituary was in the newspaper on December 1st. No one knows the exact date he passed.

This small story is a mix of present, past, and future tense. Sorry.


I pulled up to the Elderly/Disabled apartment house. I obtained the perfect space, right in front of the building, near the corner where the front door is. I had Marty's favorite station on (96.9), which I don't like (being that he's 12½ years older than me). He can appreciate the Beatles and I can't - something I used to think about sometimes. I talked to Marty for about a half hour, I'd estimate - until I felt the conversation ended. People walked by. I was a little embarrassed talking out loud to no apparent human being. I spoke softly. I talked about the things we used to do together - how much trouble we always had hauling his groceries up to his apartment - with his muscles having deteriorated - and all the old men in the building hoarding the shopping carts. We laughed at one of them back then: the old bastard kept his cart beside him at all times, as if it was his wife or best friend, and wouldn't part with it even for five minutes. I apologized to Marty for my pill addiction. He believed that all drug use was immature, but I decided to disagree, at least partially - it's an immature way to deal with things, perhaps, but I'm not thinking it's cool, as a teenager would, or making money for myself, or caring about was to help me feel better.. 

I apologized to Marty most of all for not having sex with him before he died, which I felt he did not forgive. He had taken it very seriously; it was something he wanted so badly he pursued me, harrassed me, pushed me, pleaded with me, every day, a maddening number of times. It's all he wanted at the end of his life. When I brought it up with my late husband, outside his building, I had an extremely bad feeling, a choking, tightening in my chest that seemed to surround all of me, like an enormous wave in the air. "I'm sorry," Marty. "I feel so badly about it. I would have had sex with you if I could have! So many evil things were going on in my life then, that sex was not a priority, and I was too depressed to force myself, to give you what you wanted. And I didn't know you were going to die so soon. I thought I had more time, and that it would be done. When I changed the subject, that terrible omnipresent force of negativity subsided. I told him about Jimmy, that he's in 6th grade, how well he's doing in school, that he's playing piano and cello, which is heavily influenced by "Cunter," the hated mother-in-law. I praised him for what a great husband and father he'd become in the last 5-6 years of his life, and reminded him that we had been happy, and how happy we were. I told him to rest in peace, always. I said, "Marty, you will never be forgotten." "Remember that," I told him again. "You'll never be forgotten." "I love you, Marty, and I always will." When I spoke those words, I knew in my own heart it was deeply true . He was the most important person in my life for 22 years. I wished him a happy birthday. I informed him that he'd be 59 today, and that I'd see him at his final resting place tonight, in the cemetary, talking to his headstone. I said, " spirit will always be with you. I hope your spririt is always with me. I hope you'll watch down on James and me and protect us. Will you do that?" I knew he would.

If I keep adding to this, it'll end up a long, full-length short story, or even a small, long fiction book. I'll do it another time, since I believe it should be done, but due to circumstances, can't finish the story now...

Someone said to me, "For better for worse." It was you, Colleen. And I heard. Yes, I heard those words - they were etched into my brain - hearing them made me gasp, made my heart skip. The bastard and I never permanently separated, after living together, as husband and wife, sometimes harmoniously, through iron-thick and paper-thin, for almost fifteen years. I assumed it's because we loved each other. After he abandoned me and spent a year on coke, smoking it, shooting it, requiring surgery on both infected arms - ultimately spending a quarter of a million dollars - money he inherited from his mother, the sale of her house, maxing out his credit cards, and selling possessions, as a last resort.....frequently homeless throughout the winter, repeatedly catching pneumonia - he'd had viral pneumonia at least twenty times......  Then Myotonic muscular dystrophy reared its noxious head. There had never been previous signs. I took it upon myself to save his life many times, though I didn't even like the man anymore. Actually, I hated him, his arrogance, his cruel treatment of me. He left no money for his infant son; he'd made his dramatic exit and left me to care for the baby boy all alone. It was the day before the Superbowl. Because of the pernicious muscular dystrophy, Marty's muscles began to wear away more and more rapidly, like a stone rolling down a hill, gaining momentum as it fell. I moved him to a home for the disabled. He and I fought too much in front of the child to keep him at home, even though this time - this time - he behaved decently.

Marty matured at age 50 - condemned all drugs - became a responsible man, and the husband he should have always been. These last 6 years were the best our relationship ever was, and when I think of Marty, these are the times I remember. I was so relieved it wasn't me who found his lifeless body at that apartment. I still can't stand the image. He'd been lying on the couch for days, weeks, before I lost him for the final time. I know his body was found on the couch, and I imagine him with rigor mortis, a sight I couldn't bear, even in my mind. I know that he chose to die his own way, when his speech became so affected that few could understand him. He could hardly walk at this stage, his muscles had worn so thin. He cheated the ventilator that had claimed both his mother and sister. It was an extremely hard time for Marty. I promised him I'd never allow him to be sustained on a vent, even if I had to cut a cord, pull a plug, go to jail. However, he'd become hostile towards me in the final two to three weeks. I didn't know why he treated me so badly, except for one occasion in which he said he didn't feel well. That was the most kindness he could summon. He refused to put his heat on when the freezing weather set in, contracted pneumonia, since it was an illness he was well acquainted with, and I know that's what killed him, despite the medical examiner's report of COPD. He avoided lying in some bed in a nursing facility, unable to walk, talk, write, or communicate via facial or body language... I believe it was for the best, that what Marty did was admirable. He ended his life on his own terms.

I sadly wish that his son and I had more time with him. I spent 22 years total with Marty. My boy had no father. I talk to Marty at the cemetery, and at his apartment, and cry. Scientist that I am, nevertheless I sense his presence as I stare into his headstone, and tell him all he might like to know, and how I loved him. Did he, or his aura, or spirit, somehow communicate to me that I could feel good without drugs? I felt so. Clean 5-6 days, and I really did feel better. Marty never knew about the drugs - it was the only truth I ever kept from him. I love you, Marty. I only wish I could spend just one more day with you in your apartment. Age 56 is way too young to die. Life is just shit; only the dead don't suffer. They're no longer with us to help us carry on - unless some presence, some form of consciousness is real, if it's aware of us, oversees us, protects us. BUT IT'S STILL NOT MARTY. It's not the same, not the Marty in the flesh, that I knew so well.

If I see him deeply in my mind, in my memory, I'm heartsick. He was "Marty" to me for 4 years living together, almost 18 years married. I remember the end; we were happy. I just hadn't given him the sex he wanted, and I'll always live with that regret. He'd become as good a man as any man ever was. I remember the worst things he ever did. Lies, cruelty. He was passive-aggressive, I was confrontational. Abuses. Before he died, he unturned remnants, issues, events of the past, divulged secrets that might have been unknown, forgotten, or repressed, snipped loose ends and tied up our lives - his death - as best he could. He tried to instill in me the day that he and I met: DECEMBER 10TH, 1987. It was of critical importance to him. I loved him. Did he know I loved him? He claimed that he didn't believe me, but I hope he was lying. He must've known I loved him after all I went through with him over the course of so many years. When other marriages would have failed, Marty's and mine never ended; he and I were always a pair, fused together and unbreakable. I miss him so much.


       Web Site: Marty's Birthday/Marty's Death

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