Friday, August 13, 2010
She moaned, then cried softly as she usually did when he touched her now.
When she was pregnant with their first child all those years ago, he would move his young hands and firmly press down and circle that spot in the small of her back.
Yes, right there, she would say, exactly there - but more slowly, please.
So he would slow his stroke and circle and caress until she fell asleep. In the morning, she would kiss him awake.
It was the same when the passing years brought two more children.
When she once told him not to bother waking up for her, he said he did not mind, that they married for better or for worse, and his rubbing her back was meant to make it better.
It does, she said.
Tonight, the oncologists came up to him as he paced in the family waiting room and told him again that all they could do now was to make her comfortable until the inevitable. They urged him to go home to rest for a while, but he shook his head. He turned to his daughter and sons and asked them to go home to their spouses and children until tomorrow.
After they left, he went to her private hospital room to sit with her for another night.
I can't do this anymore, he said now as he listened to her tears while he moved his age-speckled hands and gently pressed down with fingers that slowly circled and lightly caressed that spot.
She stopped crying.
No, don't say that.
But it hurts you, he said.
I only want to make it better, he told her, and lifted his hands to wipe his eyes.
I know, she said.
Later, she watched him sleep beside her. At least for another night, she fought her body's command that it was time to go.
In the morning, she kissed him awake.
© 2010 Marisa Birns