After sixty five years of marriage my uncle has not left her since she went into hospice. He sleeps in a chair next to her at night and sits at the side of the bed by day. He now watches as her chest struggles to rise and fall, her breaths labored and far between. Throughout the day I too watch, alternating looking across her to him, as we wait to see if she will take the next breath. His head is lowered at times. I think he is praying. His eyes well with tears at other times. Mostly he simply looks at her, perhaps contemplating their life together, all of their ups and downs, everything they experienced paired as one. I can’t say because he is quiet with her, as though I am not there.
My mind fans through the many memories of my aunt at so many important junctures in my life. Always close, the past few years since my mother died we had many conversations about life, love and marriage. Her compassion and understanding of the un-understandable stands out.
In the midst of this stabbing sadness as she struggles so in these final hours, praying for her peaceful transition while not wanting to let go, I have a moment of peace in this quiet room knowing that she and my uncle had something indelible. I reflect how different my marriage was, despite the wonderful examples in my family.
There is nothing else in the room, in the building, in the world but this. I watch her, I watch him. They are what love looks like. Remembering my own parents who were married forty seven years I am reminded that this is how it should be, someone at your side through it all. Unwavering. Immovable. Unquestionably dependable. Present. I appreciate this final chance to witness them.
Whereas once it seemed that I’d never be free, never experience the kind of love they know; now it suddenly seems possible for me, too. It is a final gift, paradoxically the gift of hope in the absence of it.
27May2013 Go swiftly about your journey, but remember us who mourn here.