At the airport gate I leaned wearily against the wall, still not fully recovered. My legs felt like jelly and so did my heart. It quivered with the excitement of seeing D one more time. Our eyes met when he came through the doors and I batted weakly against the tide as I tried to make my way to him. When we got close enough he dropped his knapsack and reached for me with his long arms and wrapped me tightly inside them. The world fell away and I forgot about my illness as I listened to his heart as it hammered beneath my ear. His face was blurry as I looked up and let the tears stream down my face, and when his lips met mine – I sighed.
We let the work at the store wait for the rest of that day. Instead, we unplugged the telephones and locked the doors and pulled the drapes – safe inside our own little world. There was time enough for work another day.
D’s concern over my unexplained illness was just what I needed and I started to feel better immediately. I recounted the event and told him how the doctors and my family had called my girlfriend and grilled her on every move we had made. He was intrigued the specialist had ordered a vial of my blood be kept frozen at the hospital in case I became ill again. As I cuddled up against him I could feel my strength returning with every breath he took.
We spent the next week undoing all the sleep I had gained while I was in the hospital. We worked 16-hour days in the store as we endeavored to get a system up and running that would keep both locations organized and connected. Most of the other 8 hours left in the day we spent exploring each other once more. As the clock ticked down the final days I was overwhelmed once more with my impending loss and inevitable loneliness. I tried to hide it from him, but it became obvious that he was feeling the same way. Sometimes we just stood holding on to each other, my head pressed against his chest and his arms holding me tight. I tried to memorize the color of his eyes and the sound of his voice. As he slept I listened to his breathing filling the room and watched his eyelids flicker. I tried to imprint it all on my brain so I would always be able to draw on the memory when I needed it.
With the computer problems solved and behind us, we stood once more at the security gate. Our pain was written across our faces in letters so huge that people who glanced in our direction, quickly looked away again – unwilling to witness it. Our fingertips searched for each other’s, grasping at the fading memories those hands had created. I wanted each second to be an eternity before he was whisked away again – out of my reach. We didn’t know when we might see each other again or if we ever would – and that knowledge burned at our hearts. He had two more years of university that would take up all his time. I had our memories.
When the phone rang and I heard his voice coming to me from 4000kms away – I cried. Our last kiss lingered on my lips like a scorch mark and I licked them, trying to taste him once more. His fatigue from the flight cut our conversation short, but at least we had the phone and the computer to keep in touch. University started in a couple of days and he had to catch up on the preparations he had put aside during his week with me. At least he had moved into Ottawa and was no longer living at home. He could walk to the university from his lodgings and was close to all that interested him. Except for me.
Every day his emails detailed his life at school and his love for me. They also were full of his fatigue and headaches that had plagued him since his return. As the weeks went by I could see that his health was deteriorating quickly and I encouraged him to see the doctor at the university. The doctor believed he had been subjected to something on the plane and in that confined space it would have been easy to be infected by anything contagious.
Blood tests revealed he had Mononucleosis.
(Just a note here - As I can see by the comments that are already being made - I just want to clarify that the doctors tested me for this as well as everything else they could think of. It was never resolved. I could have that blood sample tested now for West Nile Virus - but as one doctor told me quite bluntly - 'Why bother? Once you have had WNV you can never get it again. Testing would only be a waste of time and money.')