Michael’s eyes were fixed on the clock on the wall. The small waiting room was empty.
A doctor entered the room.
“Mr. Adams,” a voice said.
Michael looked up, fearing the worst.
The doctor sat down next to him. He took a deep breath.
“Mr. Adams, I am very sorry, but we were not able to bring her back.”
Michael’s eyes were empty.
“The baby?” Michael asked, looking straight ahead into the room.
The doctors diagnosed a heart attack. Michael didn’t believe that. She was always healthy and took care of herself. She didn’t drink, smoke, or eat unhealthily. She loved yoga, and she always said she wanted to live to be one hundred if God allowed it.
Michael returned to the hotel, packed his and Emily’s clothes into a bag, and left for the airport. He took the first plane leaving for New York City.
After the death of his mother, he and his father moved there. His father tried to leave the past behind them and start a new life. However, he wasn’t able to shake off the past. He was never the same again. The guilt ate him alive.
Michael was the only one his father had left. His father had no siblings or extended family members; neither did Michael.
His father bought a little townhouse in Manhattan. The money he won the night she died allowed him to do so. Michael never clearly understood why his father called this money blood money.
Michael sat in the airplane looking out at the clouds passing by beneath him. He pulled a piece of paper out of his wallet. A number was written on it. He looked at the number. And remembered.
* * *
It was a typical rainy, cold fall day in New York City. Michael came home to his father’s house after being out all night with friends. Being a habitually early riser, Michael expected to see his father roaming through the house.
However, there was silence in the house. He anticipated he would be welcomed by a blaring radio or a loud TV. His father had become quite deaf over the years but refused to wear a hearing aid.
Michael walked slowly through each of the rooms. Everything looked untouched—the pillows on the couch, the coffee machine in the kitchen. When he got closer to the staircase he could hear the sound of running tap water coming from above. He went upstairs and saw a puddle of water forming in front of the closed bathroom door. He rushed toward the door and opened it.
The bathtub was overflowing with water. The tab was still running. His father’s arm was hanging from the side of the tub. Getting closer, Michael could see that the rest of his body, including the head, was submerged in the water. He quickly pulled his father’s head up. He was blue and did not breathe.
Michael saw a letter lying on the counter.
My son, when you read this, I will be with your mother. Please forgive me for all of the pain and suffering I brought you, and please forgive me for choosing this end. Know that I am always with you.
If you feel ready, please call the number on the backside of this letter. They will tell you everything you need to know about our family and why I did what I did. It will make you understand. But don’t call now after you read this. Wait until you feel the gift.
Please don’t hate me. I did it for us. Keep me in fond memory, my son. I love you!
He turned the page over and saw the number. There was no name or anything else to indicate who this number belonged to. Gift?
Michael folded the paper and put it into his wallet. He was tempted to call the number but honored his father’s last request.