“Honey, I know that this subject matter makes you uncomfortable, but we really need to talk,” Walter Kehl says to his wife, Margo.
“No Walter, I will not have this conversation with you. Not yet. There’s no need to,” she responds with a tone of defiance, although Walter would describe it as a state of denial.
“You know very well that we need to talk about this. I’m feeling worse by the day and it’s important that my final wishes be known.”
“You’ve had spells like this before and have pulled through. I’m sure you will again,” his wife reassures him.
It’s true, Walter has gone through spells like this before, but he firmly believes that he’s cheated death once too often and that the Grim Reaper will win out this time. So Margo sits down next to her husband in bed and goes over his final requests. He will be leaving the house and all of his money to her, of course, his wife of many years. The children can pick out any mementos they wish to keep, and what’s left can go to a secondhand store. For his funeral, Walter requests that only Elvis Presley music be played and that his wife not shed a tear. She should be happy and grateful for all the years they spent together, not sad that it was his time to depart.
“Just one more thing,” Walter says to his wife. “Know that I have always loved you. You, and only you.”
“That’s sweet. Now I have something to say to you in return.”
“Yes, my love?” he asks in-between coughing fits.
“You’re the only forty-three year old man I know that has managed to convince himself that he might die at any moment from a head cold. It’s a cold, you wimp! Take a couple of decongestants, drink some tea or soup, and then have a nap. Seriously, I hate to think what you are going to be like when you actually do get sick with something life threatening.”
Walter buries his head under the covers and wishes that his mother was there to take care of him instead of his wife, a woman he knows views as unforgivably cruel and insensitive. His mother would know what to do. His mother would care.”
“Mommy,” he whispers.