Friday, March 29, 2013
People sometimes pour their hearts out to me in this job, it is so very humbling. I spent some time with a man this week who was sitting vigil with his wife. She was unconscious and appeared at peace, but he couldn't keep his hands off her as we talked, stroking, soothing, holding her hand; unbearably sweet.
He talked about what it felt like to have spent years loving and protecting her, to find himself helpless in face of her illness. Aside from regretting that he couldn't "fix" her health, his only regret was that they hadn't had more time together and he was blaming himself for that. He said, without explanation, that he is a man who doesn't rush into things, and he was angry at himself "for taking too much time to decide". I didn't ask him to elaborate, I just told him that she forgives him and knows that he loves her. And then he told me a story that made me sure that what I'd told him was true.
A couple of days earlier, he told me, his wife was in the hospital, on a heart monitor. Late at night, he climbed into the bed with her so he could hold her. All of a sudden, nurses busted into the room, all aflutter. Turns out that both of their heartbeats had appeared on the monitor, in near unison. It freaked the nurses out, he said, but made perfect sense to him because "our hearts have always been connected."
On days like this, I'm left with a turmoil of feelings, and it is hard for me to tell at the end of the day whether sadness or gratitude or envy comes out on top.