The aging man lay next to the mature woman, his leg wrapped around hers, his arm lying over the top of her body with his fingers gently touching her thigh. She felt all the emotion of his thoughts as he breathed in and out. She was transported to a place she never known with another. Just listening to him breathe was exhilarating. Her mind rested as she reveled in his embrace. The words, “I love you”, were never spoken from his lips; nor did she need to hear them. She simply knew he loved her, and he understood that she knew.
He often watched her, tracking her movements, feelings, thoughts, and well being. His steady observations comforted her. It seemed as if they had been in love their whole lives. Who would have ever known the difficulties each of them had endured? Their happiness had faded all the failures.
They attended family weddings, birthdays, and funerals together as they slowly became one. They faced wonderful and uncomfortable moments with adult children as they bonded more. The grandchildren called him Poppa. She found herself head over heels in love and hoped he felt it too, but she never asked him. Little did she know that he had already chosen her forever. After some time, she did confide her love for him and he replied, “I figured it was something like that.” How perceptive he was, and how joyful she grew.
He told her that her self reliance was sexy. He respected her and had never had a relationship in which a woman helped him build a future. He had felt alone in those past failures, and she began to realize that the flowers of their relationship bloomed large and sweet as they formed a deeper understanding.
She thought his gruff tenderness was endearing. She would do anything for this man who never said, “I love you.” His actions were the evidence, and she didn’t need the words. Wonderful days of joy passed while future days would sprinkle sadness into their lives.
After she discovered the lump in her neck; the man had encouraged her to get it checked immediately. They both shed silent tears as they heard those words the first time.
I’m so sorry, but you have stage 3 CANCER. It is treatable, but not curable.
The first chemotherapy was long. They watched the bags of fluid drip into her arm for almost 7 hours in between turns of sleep and wakefulness. The man was told that she had been given an allergen to prevent too terrible of a reaction. He was told that she would sleep during the treatment. He left at one point hoping she wouldn’t notice, so that he could bring back a tasty lunch for her to enjoy. Her beautiful smile indicated that she was pleased. Indeed, she was thankful for his thoughtful nature. The big sandwich he brought was shared by the two as they waited for this first round of chemo to be over. The staff was very surprised because her body accepted the poison with no reaction to it at any point during the hours long process.
The man walked ahead of her to check her out and receive her next appointment. Near the front counter, he turned and caught her in his arms as she passed out and fell to the floor. Her blood pressure dropped to seriously low levels from the chemo as she walked through the lobby. The nurses revived her and he half carried her back to the treatment room. More reclining and fluids while they waited for the blood pressure to respond. Finally they were able to go home, but in the middle of the night, the man she loved held her as her body jerked and jolted uncontrollably as rigors from the poison pumped through her veins. He was terrified, but wrapped her in blankets while she shivered violently as her body tried to regulate its temperature.
The man accompanied her to her treatments as often as she would let him. The woman didn’t want him to fuss over her. She thought it was senseless to expect him to sit for six hours and watch her sleep. The treatment nurses gave her strong doses of several medications for an hour before they began the 5 hour chemotherapy. The medical ‘cocktail’ caused her to sleep for 2-3 hours during the infusion.
After months of treatment, when her physical strength abandoned her; he became her champion. When she often couldn’t remember words or phrases, he was her collaborator. As she lost her self confidence, he encouraged her.
With two years of treatment behind them, and 1,400 days of remission, the man and woman have hope. There have been many changes in her abilities, but she has adapted, and he supports her. It is obvious that they only love each other more. She still forgets now and then, and she isn’t as strong as she used to be. He is getting older, but only seems more wonderful to her with each new day.
They live simply, and laugh often.