The light from the blue moon shone across the porcelain giving the bathroom an eery feel. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. There was an exhausted old man staring back at him. He was just fifty-three years old.
His wife’s cancer had taken a toll on both of them.
He opened the medicine cabinet door and stared at the bottles of pills. Which one would ease her pain tonight? The blue ones, the pink ones? He heard her moan from the bedroom down the hall. The white ones.
It seemed like a long walk down the hall as his bare feet touched the cold hardwood. He lifted her head up gently so she could swallow. As he lay her head back down she whispered, “Prayer.” And he said a prayer for endurance and peace so she could sleep. As he climbed back into bed beside her, he felt her body begin to relax. He wanted to sleep, but he usually only dozed, always on alert that this would be only a temporary ease to her pain.
The cancer diagnosis had been rather sudden and the battle had been going on for quite some time. From the start, the doctors had not been hopeful. Six months, maybe a year. But she was in her fourteenth month. Borrowed time. Borrowed nightmare and yet precious moments. He couldn’t remember the last time he slept through the night soundly. But tonight, a reprieve from the pain was apparent, so whether it was exhaustion or just relief, he finally slept and so did his precious wife of thirty – five years.
In the morning, she was feeling better and they shared a breakfast together off her bed tray. He read to her from the Bible and read her some cards and emails from loving friends. He gave her a sponge bath, a fresh nightgown and her morning pills. She settled down for a nap and he went to the kitchen to clean up. She was still sleeping soundly so he put some laundry in the washer, paid some bills and made some phone calls, all the while, checking in on her, happy that she slept.
By lunch time, she was not up to eating, so he made her some broth, which she sipped from a teacup. They talked about her plants, had he watered and fed them the way she did? He had.
That afternoon her sister came to visit and he asked her if she would be alright while he took a quick shower.
He let the hot water beat down on his aching back and let the tears fall. He was so tired, but not as much as he was terrified. But as always, he put on a brave face, because he knew she knew he was hurting too.
He shaved and dressed and made himself something to eat from the many casseroles brought by friends. He didn’t even taste his meal.
When her sister left, he laid down beside her and held her gently. While they lay there together, they thought of cheerful things with her, recalling memories of their wonderful life together. She wanted to see their wedding pictures, so he brought the album to her, holding her hand as they looked at them. Their love had grown more deeply over the years and she was more beautiful to him now then she had ever been. He was so proud and honored to have seen her strength not just now, but many times throughout their life together. He told her so. They talked of love and loving and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
It was the day of their anniversary. It would have been their thirty-seventh. She had lost her battle with cancer but had not lost his love. As he was sitting down to pay his insurance premium, he found an envelope addressed to him. It was in her hand. He hesitated, but then started to cry. That was just like her, to plan ahead. He opened it. “Happy Anniversary To A Wonderful Husband – she wrote, “My Dear Darling Husband, I want you to know how much it has meant to me to be married to you all these years. They went so quickly! Too quick! You did such a wonderful job of taking care of me not just these past two years, but always and it as been my honor to be your wife. Please go now and live a full and happy life, you deserve that! Thank you for all the wonderful years. Until we see each other again, Your Ever Loving Wife, Teddy.”
He was careful not to let his tears hit the card so it wouldn’t get ruined. He read it over and over again until it was burned into his heart. Then he put it back in the envelope and put it in the dresser drawer.
The sun was shining through the bathroom window his he stared at his face in the mirror. Today was another day. He shaved, combed his hair and went outside for a walk.