(My parents on their wedding day circa 1940s.)
My husband stands straight, tall, so close to my bed. He is all I see. He is my life. His long, thin, weathered fingers stroke my brow. My life is in his touch.
Our love has endured so much--worry, anger, misunderstanding, longing, pain. Will it endure this?
Others think he is strong but I see his damp eyes, his Adam's apple quiver, his erratic breathing. I know his fragility. My strongest desire is to keep him safe from sadness, from grief, from loss, from what is happening to me. I want to hold him and I want to tell him that we've won, that we will be together forever.
But though I fight, I am leaving him--slipping away.
He must withstand this. He must be strong. I will give him strength. I sneer up at him. Don't let it win. Have faith. Our love is stronger. I tell him with my eyes.
"May I kiss you?" He is always a gentleman.
"If you dare." I grin. He's used to my teasing.
Our lips--our hearts touch.
"Was it worth it?" I ask. "Was it worth your life?"
"Oh." He breathes. "Oh, yes." He forces a smile.
Then I know; I know we've won; I know our love will never die.
My mom passed away in April 1998; my dad was by her side until her very last breathe.