A Love That Endures

“No! Please. Dear God, no.” His cry was one of anguish few of us ever really experience.

His wife lay in her hospital bed, surrounded by beeping monitors. The smell of disinfectant would have made him light-headed if he had been paying attention. The air hung heavy with thoughts left unspoken.

We’ve been together 53 years. How could God take her from me now? The man sobbed openly, without shame.

He sat in a hard chair, pulled as close as possible. He held tightly to her cold hand, rubbing his thumb over the loose skin. As tears fell he wiped them away without noticing. His eyes never left her face.

The doctor stood silently watching. Normally he would have left already, maybe sent a nurse to check on them periodically. But his heart broke for this man. He couldn’t have avoided giving him the grim prognosis, could he? He wasn’t sure how her heart kept beating as it was. She could be gone any moment. It was his duty to dispense the news honestly.

If only someone would love me as much. His mind wandered to his own failed marriage. Had he ever loved with such selflessness? He never knew love could be so strong, so enduring, so infinite.

“Sir, help me. Please.” The old man implored.

Brought back to the present the doctor found the other man standing unsteadily, pushing on the unconscious woman. “What-” he began.

“Help me!” His harsh tone surprised the younger man.

The doctor placed his hand on top of the old man’s, stopping it. Once he looked up they maintained eye contact. In all his years as a physician he had never seen such raw pain. “How can I help?”

“I want…” He paused, tears overcoming him. “I need to hold her. One last time.”

Together they eased her to one side of the bed, leaving a narrow space on the other. Awkwardly her husband climbed up beside the patient, laying on his side. The doctor lifted her head gently so the man could slide his arm under her neck. The old man pressed himself to her, whispering in her ear.

Feeling like an intruder the doctor turned away.

Just then the monitor that had been steadily beeping in time with her heart stopped it’s rhythmic beat. Instincts kicking in, he spun around ready for action. Approaching the bed he said, “Sir, you’re going to need to move.” When there was no response he quickly reached for the old man’s wrist, anxious to move it off her chest so he could try to get her heart beating again, buy them a few more minutes. To his horror the old man’s hand was limp. Feeling for a pulse he realized they were both gone.

Maybe it was for the best. With a heavy heart he left the room.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Infinity.

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