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It Happened on This Day

Posted by Dr. D , 06 September 2012 · 249 views

I thought a lot about this. There seemed to be a formula for writing about a romance, and so I thought it would be necessary to recount how we met, when we fell in love, the tests and trials of that love and then to explain how it all ended. All romances appear to follow that pattern so I felt compelled to do the same.

But I don’t remember how we met or when we shared that first kiss. Strange. Those things should be indelible upon the memory, but with me they are not. Everything about us was without beginnings like asking an adult to remember his first word. We came together in a place we did not know, nor one another and we always were and always will be.

What I do remember was that day in July, 2003. She had been very tired and we decided to take a vacation to Acapulco. We agreed that we needed to get away from everything and everyone for a week or two and we checked into the Las Brisas Hotel and sat on the terrace relishing in the sun. We had been married 15 years at that time and always she had been vibrant and animated by life, but now she appeared a bit haggard and often took deep breaths as if being resigned to something dreadful.

That night we sat in the hot tub and watched a full moon peek from behind the palms. She placed her head against my shoulder and whispered, “I have something to tell you.”


“Yeah. The doctors tell me that I have cancer.”

There was a silence then. The waves ceased to break against the rocks and the gulls did not squall for that moment. There was nothing appropriate to be said.

“Where?” I asked and then thought the words were profoundly insensitive.

She smiled and shrugged slightly. “The worst places.”

After that we simply sat in the bubbling water and held each other close. I cried and she kissed my chest. Those things I remember.

There were countless visits to doctors, clinics, hospitals and therapists after that. We went to Switzerland when it was announced that some researchers had developed a treatment system to control cancer growth. It would not be ready for another five years, we were told and we returned to our world of fear and the terror of waiting.

By 2005 she was in bed most of the time and any movement caused pain. For that reason I sat in a chair next to her as she slept. I held her hand a lot. And it was then that our romance began. It was not when we met or with a kiss. Our romance began then and after 15 years of a typical marriage with love, spats and routine, we began our romance.

“What will you do when I’m gone?” she asked one evening.

“I don’t know,” I said. “ The thing everyone wants to know is what will you do after you’re gone?”

We laughed then. It was good to hear her laugh. We had come to accept all of the realities and consequences and were willing to face them together in the best way we knew how. And so we laughed and enjoyed the moment knowing that all others were numbered.

I would return from work about five and take care of details and by seven I was in my chair and the nurse who took care of her during the day had left. Those were our good times.

“I must look awful,” she complained one evening.

The truth was that she was an impressively beautiful woman. Heads turned when she walked in public and men openly envied me. That envy, however, was for the wrong things. I loved her not for her beauty but for all the other things she was.

She stared at the window for a long time and I knew that she was being taken away by her thoughts. “I feel different,” she said suddenly. “It’s funny. It’s a feeling but you can read it like a book. It gets inside of you and tells you to say all the things you want to say because there’s not going to be much more time.”

I shook my head. “No, don’t think those things.”

“No, no, it’s okay. It’s not a bad feeling. It’s like getting an invitation to a party that you don’t want to attend but you know you have to. It’s not bad, just pesky.”

“I think positive thoughts are better,” I advised.

“No, shhh. I want to say this, okay? I have to know that you know.”


She smiled slightly. “God, how much I’ve loved you.”

“I do know.”

“Good. Because I’ve felt your love every minute we’ve been together. I really have. And it was wonderful.”

And so we spoke and shared and remembered until she surrendered to her slumber and I sat there praying that she would see the dawn.

By August of that year doctors were saying that she could go at any moment. She could not speak well and I struggled to understand her. But on the night of November 16th she had a new sparkle to her eyes and her voice returned to normal. Now she held my hand with a new strength and I was ecstatic with hope.

She lowered her eyes before speaking and then raised them to greet mine. “I want you to cremate me,” she announced. “You have to promise.”

“I frowned. Why? “  We had never talked about such things and I suddenly realized that we should have.

“Because I don’t want you to be visiting a grave and going through that grief thing. I want to be cremated and put my ashes in the ocean. If you want to visit me, keep me in the corner of your mind and go there when you need me. But only that.”.

And so the agreement was made and on the morning of September 7th I awoke in my chair and she was gone.

The problem with love is that it is like her cancer. It won’t go away or stop growing. I have to think of a reason to get up in the morning. A month after she died I still put two plates on the table and listened for the sound of her in the shower. Not an hour passes that she doesn’t step into my thoughts. I keep her there because now I know she was all I had. She was all that I was.

I did all that she asked of me. The remains of her float within the Pacific. I visit her in the corners of my soul. In a few weeks I will put fresh flowers in a vase because I always had flowers for her on her birthday. I will raise a glass of wine and celebrate who she was and what she made of us.

We had repeated those terrible words with complete joy. Till death do us part, we said and never realized the dimensions of that promise. But still she is a part of me and will never be apart.

So why do I share all this with you? I do so to remind you that love cannot be silent. Love is like making bread. You have to work it and watch it grow and then work it again. Tend to one another and be happy that this time and feeling has been given to you in the name of the one you love. Without it, your heart is like a vacant alley where vagrant winds move wastes. Live and love well and let this be the message that she sends to you through me. I thank God for the time he gave me with her and plead that you treasure your moments and not contaminate them with the frivolities of life.

That was the message of her life and I would treat her memory poorly if I did not repeat it for you.

Star of the Sea
Sep 06 2012 09:52 PM
Beautifully written Dr. D and thanks for sharing, it really moved me.
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White Crane Feather
Sep 07 2012 06:22 AM
And it has not fallen on deaf ears

"like a vacant alley where vagrant winds move wastes. Live and love well and let this be the message that she sends to you through me"


I will not forget.....
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