One by one the seasons died and almost without notice the years succumbed to the same fate. I was young then and paid little notice to the passage of time. Things seemingly occurred purposefully as nature imposed its will on everything around me. The elderly’s lives seemed to slow and occasionally, and sadly, the years of some came to an end. That was just the way life and its inevitable passing was.
But now, It seems that my view of the end of lives has changed. In the past few years people I knew well, and some whom I even loved, have passed away; it’s as though death is taunting me by taking those I care about very much. I’ve decided that I would like to declare a moratorium on dying, but although I often question my grasp on reality, I have not yet become delusional enough to truly believe I have that power.
I very recently found myself in hospital room 3023. No, I was not the patient. I sat on a small sofa that my brother Bill also rested on. We sat separated by a mere three feet, but that was the longest three feet I could ever imagine. We talked about the weather, people we knew and things taking place outside of the hospital walls. We also talked about Bill’s wife, Rosemary.
Rosemary had, for many months, fallen asleep each night in a bed which rested in a hospital or nursing home room. Dementia had taken away her memory and the life she once knew and she rarely recognized Bill’s voice or face. She now lay in a hospital bed not more than ten feet from me and although she was alive, she was not living.
The bed was white as were the sheets, pillow cases and blankets. Machines with metal poles surrounded the bed and bags suspended from hooks seemed to hover above Rosemary. It seemed to me that the only sound in the room was the hum of the monitor which recorded Rosemary’s vital signs.
Although everything that medical science, and the staff doctor could predict, said Rosemary would live for only a few short hours there was something within Rosemary, something intangible, that would not let her leave. Bill had already many times said his goodbyes but she had not yet told him farewell. Death had its own schedule that could not be influenced or predicted by a mere mortal; Doctor or not.
Bill, who often questioned the value of faith in the almighty, asked God for one favor, the only one he had ever asked for. He didn’t ask that Rosemary’s life be spared. He knew the time for that had most assuredly passed so he asked for something else. Bill prayed that Rosemary’s long endured suffering end and she mercifully pass away and fall into that eternal peaceful sleep.
The teary eyed soul realized that he would have to learn to live with the solitude that would most certainly be his; that terrible chest crushing solitude that will lay on him each night as he waits for a sleep that, at least for a few hours, would chase away the loneliness. But, he had to let Rosemary go.
Rosemary was born on November 2, 1946 in Albuquerque New Mexico. She and Bill were husband and wife for over five decades. Rosemary died at 10:18 p.m. Monday February 22, 2016 when mercy came to Rosemary and to Bill as well, and it was death.
When Bill walked out of the hospital that night something felt different. There was something in the air; the wind was bringing changes and nothing could stop that unwelcome breeze or those ill perceived changes. Bill was convinced that the wind would exist longer than forever and bring with it the inevitable changes that sometimes bring sadness into our lives. The same wind that once carried the Mocking Bird’s feather, will inevitably take it away.
The beginning of love can be declared but I’m not yet convinced that the end of love can be found. Maybe love is the only thing in this universe that is timeless. It surely changes but does the passing of a loved one bring an end to love? I think not; I believe it only changes it. There are those, and there are many who believe, that someday we pass on to a better place. If that’s true then the love shared by two must somehow go with us. The heart can give love and only the heart can take it away.