It's always the little things. The small, almost invisible details, that are most strongly etched in the memory. The daily sights and routines that just blend into the background, and yet give life its real meaning.
Their wedding anniversary was coming up in a couple of months, and since the day they married, he'd gone through the same daily ritual. Every night before he went to bed, he'd set his alarm, place a small chocolate on her pillow, and get the old-fashioned teas-maid machine ready so that the tea would be freshly brewed for the minute they wake up. It'd been exactly the same for more than forty years.
Last night, he'd set the alarm, prepared the tea, and left the chocolate. This morning, his alarm never even had a chance. He was awake a full hour before it was due to go off, woken by a crushing pain in his chest and a desperate inability to catch his breath. When we arrived, he was blue. His face was blue. His hands were blue. His oxygen levels 40% lower than they should have been. His breathing laboured, hardly moving any air at all. He was fighting to stay alive.
She stood there, helpless, terrified, lost. Silently sobbing and wiping away the tears that were flooding her cheeks. We rushed around treating him, willing the oxygen into his body faster than the cylinder could push it in. IV lines were inserted, drugs administered, chairs brought up to the third floor apartment. Everything seemed to her to be happening in a blur. We were hurrying out the flat, when she stopped to take one last look at the room.
She walked back in, stood by his side of the bed, and shedding another tear, turned off the teas-maid.