Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho, chronicles her grief journey each week for Love What Matters after her husband died of pancreatic cancer. This week she describes how strong her husband was, even as he was saying “goodbye.”
“Chad was solitary most of the time. He liked it that way. He kept his circle tight and didn’t allow many people close. I don’t know why, he never said. It wasn’t because he didn’t like people; after all, he spent the last part of his life serving them as a police officer.
He didn’t require close interaction. It wasn’t a necessity. He was kind, and he was generous, but it wasn’t often he handed out hugs just to hand them out. If he did, it meant something. It’s what made him so genuine.
When he was admitted into the hospital, whether it was for surgery or near the end, I wanted to stay with him. Just like any other wife would, I wanted to be there in the middle of the night if he needed me. Sometimes he wanted me there, sometimes he didn’t, but I knew that was my place. They always had a couch or a chair I could sleep in, and I didn’t hesitate to move it close to his bed, instructing them to move the IV to the other side because I wanted to be close enough to reach out to him in the middle of the night if he needed me to.
One night, he did. He woke up in silence and called my name. He asked me to lay with him. I made my way through all the IV’s and monitors and found a place next to my husband in the hospital bed. For a brief second, I wondered what the nurses would say if they found me there, then quickly decided I just didn’t care. It was unlike him to call upon me for anything and I was taking full advantage of it.
I stayed there with him, just lying there, wide awake listening to him breathe. I counted his breaths. I tapped my finger to his heartbeat. I tried not to move. I didn’t want to bother him.
Eventually, I had to go back to my own makeshift bed, and we never said another word about it. In fact, after that night, he barely spoke at all. I talked to him, though. I told him it was ok to go, I told him I would take care of Kaitlyn, and I told him we would be alright. It wasn’t ok for him to go, really, but what else was I supposed to say, except give him permission. He asked me often who would take care of me after he was gone. I think sometimes he worried about that and hung on as long as he could.
I don’t know why he asked me to lay down with him that night. Maybe it was his way of saying ‘goodbye.’ Maybe that man with the rough exterior who showed love by ‘doing,’ instead of ‘saying,’was quietly whispering his farewell, just by holding onto me one last time.
This is my reality. This is real life. These are the heartbreaking thoughts of a widow. It’s been so hard, but I learned something from it. If you’ve lost somebody you love, I hope you can look back and remember that moment, that one single, solitary moment when they showed you how much they loved you, and I hope you cling to it fiercely, and forever. I hope you never let that feeling go, because as you move on in life, you’re going to need it. Whether you move, take a new job, meet somebody new, love again – whatever the case may be, you will feel change. And sometimes, change will be great, and sometimes, it won’t be. And in those times when it’s not, you have to remember that at one point, somebody loved you so much, recognized your value so much, adored you so much that while faced with their own struggle, they showed you anyway. They would want you to know you are magnificent, and you should never forget that.
And if you still have the one you love, cherish it. Maybe they express love differently than you. Maybe they do all sorts of things that irritate you or frustrate you or make you want to run. I don’t know how to fix it all, but what I do know is that when you truly love somebody, don’t let the annoyances get in the way. Love them anyway. Don’t let fights break you. Love them anyway. Don’t let snoring get on your nerves. Love them anyway. Make them dinner. Take a minute to listen to their story. Be present. Be honest. Be willing. Be their person.
Ask them to lay with you. You won’t regret it.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for joining me in this journey. It is my most fervent wish that you have found some clarity, some peace and that you know you’re not alone.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her bestselling book, “Grief Life,” is now available in print and kindle. Experience love, laughter, loss and hope in this raw, emotional, honest look at grief. You can follow her work on her Facebook page. She has been chronicling her journey with grief in a series of stories for Love What Matters:
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