Please Don’t Leave the Room

I’m thinking it, but somehow I just can’t say it. I can reach for you; I can hold your hand. But I can’t say those words. You have an appointment. Maybe even a very important one. But you have to realize that this is more important: it’s a matter of life and death. If I can realize it, you can too. Or maybe you have to learn it. This is the first time, but it won’t be the last.

You are on your way somewhere else, going out, for that thing you have to do. You think I’m not feeling great, but I’ll be okay, like I usually am after a while. You let go of my hand, edge toward the door so you can put on your jacket.

What happens if you leave?

I could wait for you to go, hold out as long as I can, then call you—make you turn the car around and sit, frozen, until you come back. But what if you don’t answer, because you’re driving? What if your phone dies, or is on silent? What if you leave the room, and you come back, and I am gone?

I let you take a few more steps; you’re still inside the doorway. I let you think that I’m okay, that you can leave, that nothing will change. But I know that’s not true. I know I can’t hold on without you there, in the room. I need your face, and your voice. I need your hands, your presence. Something real: the opposite of what is in my mind—the unreal thoughts telling me to let you go.

Somehow, I find the strength to say it: Please don’t leave the room.


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