They sat in the chair next to me in the cancer center yesterday. She was dressed in blue from her polyester skirt to her wig of blue-gray hair. His walk was slow, stoop-shouldered and weary; his bald head bent down. The blood pressure cuff on her arm buzzed and hissed every few minutes while she was monitored through her treatment. He tucked her warm blanket around her now and then, ministering care to her whenever he saw need.
He sat on the arm of her chemo chair, not bothering to pull a stool over for himself. He would rather bear his own discomfort in order to be close to her. At times he would lean forward and kiss her forehead and they would share a secret smile. Teary-eyed I watched them through my own port-a-cath battle. She would occasionally look over to me, our eyes would meet, and I saw her tenderness, her agony at my pain.
I left the treatment room at one point to meet with my doctor, and when I returned, the nurses were behind a curtain finishing up with her, flushing her port, removing her cuff. He sat outside the fabric wall on the edge of the plain blue chairs. His eyes never left her curtain, watching, waiting, knotted hands clutching his tweed hat. As the curtain open I heard the nurse say, “Congratulations on your last treatment!”
The man lept to his feet with a grace that belied his age and he was immediately at her side, helping her with her coat, whispering to her words only she could hear. They shared another smile. This one held relief. And they slowly walked towards the door of the treatment center, his hand never leaving her back. They nodded to the nurses and waved good-bye to an acquaintance across the room. Then she stopped. She turned, looked back at me, and smiled. “God bless you.” She moved to go, then stopped again. “I heard you talk of your family with the nurses.” she said, “May you have many years with them.”
Then they were gone. Holding hands out the door.
l thought about the many years they had obviously shared together, and I prayed they would have many more.
And I sat in my chair and cried, and I asked God again, as I have so many times, “Please, Lord, let me have many years with my Brian. Please let me grow old with this man.”
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