A/N: This chapter matches chapter 11: Touch Me, but this one is from Melinda's perspective.
This wasn't fair.
Her heart pounded in her ears, and Melinda tried to breathe, tried to keep going.
The sounds of the hospital room slowly faded back in, the frantic moves of the nurses, and the beep of the machine.
He was gone. She knew what that noise meant. Jim was gone.
She sank onto the floor, face in her hands, as her husband faded from view.
This was it. Her idea of forever, the one constant in her life, the one damn thing that didn't change, had never changed, was gone.
Jim was gone.
In all of her worst nightmares, she'd never dreamed this. In every worst case scenario, it had never been Jim because Melinda honestly had never been able to imagine this. Life had been so cruel to her before now, she'd thought that, with Jim, all of that was finally over. That she'd finally gotten something right, that life was settled, that she'd never have to worry again.
Every. Goddamn. Time.
Every time life settled for her, something else happened to mess it up. Rick had left, her father had resurfaced, Gabriel, Andrea...to name just a few.
But Jim. Jim had been with her through all of that, and more. Jim had been the one person to whom she didn't have to explain things to, the one person she just had to tell she was struggling and he was on it. He did anything he could, every time, just to take care of her.
And he was gone. Her support system, her love, her life. The man who'd believed her, the man who'd had faith in her, the man who'd kissed her, the man who loved her.
He was gone.
She didn't know how to live without him.
She couldn't see him. That was the worst part. She wondered if he'd gone on without saying goodbye...after all, what could his unfinished business be? He didn't have any. He knew she loved him, he knew that she knew she was loved. So he must be gone.
Until he appeared at the funeral, and Melinda's heart thrummed back to life for the few seconds she saw him, and she thought he was alive.
And he wasn't. But her heart still beat at double time, feeling his presence around her, looking in his beautiful eyes, and pretending that this could last.
She wrapped her arms around the area where his neck would be, and it hurt her heart so much that she couldn't feel his heat. She couldn't stand that his presence was just that...presence. No body, no arms to touch, no arms to hold her.
She couldn't touch him.
She didn't know what to do.
Jim wanted to stay with her. They argued in her bedroom, and she tried to tell him that he had to go, but all she wanted was to just be with him, in the way he'd described.
She wanted to stay in this room until she was an old, old lady, and just let Jim tell her how beautiful she was, and how much he loved her.
She knew that doing so would only break her further, and she knew it when Jim reached out to touch her and his hand slid through her body. She'd almost broken down, then and there, unable to keep coping. She just wanted his arms around her, she wanted to feel his hug, she wanted the way he kissed her shoulders when they were in the kitchen together, she wanted his hand on her low back like when they were out together.
She wanted his heat, his warmth. She wanted to lie in bed with him and not need the radiators on because he was so warm, and always so close.
She wanted his touch.
She was loved, in that way. In the way that poets write about, in the way singers search for.
Melinda stared out into traffic, her gaze blank and unwavering. Jim sat beside her, and Melinda couldn't bear to look at him. This situation? It was killing her. She couldn't bear to send him away more than she already had, and she couldn't bear for him to stay here, haunting her.
She wanted him back, of course she did. She wanted their life together, she wanted sixty years...not six.
This wasn't fair. She had done so much, helped so many people. She was the ghost whisperer, she could talk to the dead, and here she was, her husband dead beside her, and she couldn't make him do what she counseled every other spirit to do...leave.
She felt like the biggest joke in the world.
There must have been an accident up ahead, because the line of cars she was in suddenly stopped moving. She looked to her left, and Jim had gotten out of the car. Her heart seized, and she knew without seeing that he was going to do something...something drastic.
She jumped from the car, instinct leading her on, until she saw Jim, at the ambulance. She stilled. Maybe he was just missing his old job, trying to stay in the action...but he looked up at her, and she saw the look in his eyes: that stubborn gleam that meant he wasn't going to listen to what anyone said. "Jim!" She almost screamed, and she saw the man on the stretcher's spirit cross into the light.
And she saw Jim dissolve into the spirit's empty body.
When the paramedics gave up on trying, it was then that the body woke up...when Jim woke up.
Melinda ran forward, wondering if it was at all possible that he'd succeeded.
The words he spoke shattered heart into a thousand tiny pieces. "Do I know you?"
She knew what she'd seen, and she knew that it was Jim. Somehow, some way, it was Jim. She'd gotten him back.
But she still didn't have anyone to touch her. The paramedics wheeled away the stranger she knew was Jim, and she wept openly as she walked back to her car.
Jim was back, and he still couldn't touch her.