And so I sit, the dutiful wife, watching as my husband’s chest rises and falls as he takes his last breaths. Dutiful, I say, tongue in cheek. For already I am counting the times I was less than I would have ideally wanted to be. Self absorbed too often, complaining again too often over trivial matters.
But I am doing my best to come through now, now when I am told he can still hear me. Private thoughts of course. But my overriding tone is one of reassurance as I pivot from self pity to boundless love. “Don’t worry,” I say. “I will be ok. I will be joining you at some point, a front row seat for a play you will be directing for the heavenly assembly. Your place is secured. Mine, slightly more in question. But I will pray for forgiveness so we can be together for all of eternity.” Something like that.
Does he honestly hear me? His demeanor never changes. I know he does not want to die. But I also know he does not want to go on living like this. A one time virtuoso in the theatrical world. A lovely baritone, light on his feet. I think of him like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. I wish I had known him in his younger days. But we met when he was sixty and I his junior by five years. We had our own dancing moments, at our wedding, and at a restaurant called The Mango Grille. We made a dashing couple, I contend, in all modesty.
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We would dress up, him in a three piece suit, me in some attempt at glamor. Usually a long dress, fluid and flowing. I would lead him out to our lanai for a photo shoot. We tried a few selfies. But mainly, we enjoyed stepping out and looking our best.
I look back today at our Kodak moments preserved in several framed prints for posterity. Now they will serve to remind me of our gay sixties and early seventies. Too short a time, and yet I believe we crammed quite a bit of adventure into our fifteen years together.
Flagler Beach was a favorite getaway while my sister was still alive. She passed away four years ago from ALS. We golfed the Lagoons nine hole course at the Plantation in Crystal River: Peter, my sister and myself. Peter was a southpaw like my dad, with a beautiful swing. He could hit them far and straight as I often
coached him to stay down through his swing, “No peeking” I would remind him if he came up too soon. As for myself, no Annika Sorenstam. But I managed a few birdies over the years, and was a fairly decent putter. We often would go to a Greek restaurant to compare our scorecards and relive our small successes. Those were wonderful times. We called ourselves “The Three Banditos.”
Now I hear my husband inhale the good and exhale the bad. “Thy will, not my will,” I chime in. God has him. I’ve had him. And I tell Peter I will always have him. Close to my heart, embedded in my soul.
Not to get overly sappy. But “Love Forever True,” our motto, never has rung truer for me than right now, as I envision my life without my love. I have been blessed beyond measure. And I will carry Peter in my heart until I too take my last breath.
Postscript: Peter passed away peacefully, me by his side, as he took his last breath, Saturday afternoon, February 18th.
Lynne Farrell Abrams has a bachelor’s degree in communication. She has been a writer and editor, an adult education writing instructor, and a substance abuse counselor. Lynne wishes to offer sincere thanks to all her readers for accompanying her on this grief journey. She is comforted now by your prayers.
Lynne has resided in Citrus County for twelve years. She invites your comments at her email address: freelance firstname.lastname@example.org.
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