Unlike most people strolling down the streets, Mr York was not looking for a fancy dress nor a new coat when he had his best coat on walking home from the city’s largest hospital. His footsteps grew heavy as he stopped by a casket shop. He took off his shoes and walked in, looking at the long hallway with a huge display of wreaths and coffins. His hand reached out to touch the surface of a glossy oak one, to feel how cold his final resting place would be. A shop assistant noticed the old man looking into his own reflection at one of the displays and walked over.
“Sir, how may I help you today?” he asked, in a concerned tone.
“May I know what is the cheapest coffin your store carries?” came the reply.
A little thrown back at his reply, the assistant readily led the old man by hand to a selection of coffins that were not as luxurious as the ones up front, but had no polished finish and were simply plain wood strips nailed together to form a coffin.
The old man knocked a couple of times on one of the pine coffins and asked, “How much?”
The assistant replied with a heavy heart, “125 pounds Sir, this is one of the cheapest we have in stock”
The old man breathed a heavy sigh, as he took out his pocket watch with a photo of his beloved wife that he had spent the last 60 years with. With tears welling up in his eyes, he thanked the assistant and walked out of the store.
Unknown to his wife, this was one of her husband’s last few days as he had been diagnosed with liver failure years ago but never sought treatment. Their family had never been rich, living on a government pension that was given out and 125 pounds would be too much for his wife to afford. He had no idea what he could possibly do to make life easier for the one love he would be leaving behind.
With a heavy heart, he walked home, to see his lovely wife greeting him with a freshly brewed pot of tea. He gave her a kiss on her cheek like how it had always been for the past 60 years. Whilst she went going about her chores, he took out his pen and writing pad, and wrote:
Its been the most beautiful 60 years of my life, knowing you, despite not having a complete family like we always wanted to with kids and grandchildren. Nonetheless, I am thankful for each day I wake up having you right beside me. I’m sorry I couldn’t live up to our promise to die after you, for I know how sad you would be ever since you woke with nightmares of me not being around anymore.
Listen my love, let my ashes be with you all the time, I don’t ever want to leave you, remember the beautiful rose embroidery case which I placed our wedding rings in? Put a part of me there after I have been cremated and scatter the rest of my ashes over our beautiful rose garden that you have put so much effort into, so I can see the buds bloom in spring together with you.
Abby, I love you so much, thank you for never minding the fact that I was never rich enough to bring you to Paris, nor buy you fanciful dresses, thank you for staying with me and always greeting me at the porch with a fresh pot of tea each evening. Thank you for agreeing to be Mrs York despite the fact that I had nothing to my name.
I love you,
Folding up the letter, he felt a sense of relief as he placed it on their bedroom drawer, before feeling his eyelids droop heavily as he felt his body rest in its eternal peace.