Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On 60 Years

Yesterday, Justin's great-great uncle E.R. Collier passed away. He had pancreatic cancer that wasn't found until 4 weeks ago, and progressed at an astounding rate (the tumor went from 3.5x3.8cm to 5x5cm in less than 2 weeks). We saw him this last weekend and, even when he was responsive, he was still very yellow from his bile ducts being blocked by the mass. The hospice nurse had stopped by Justin's parents', where E.R. and his wife Joanne have been staying, and told them that, based on his breathing pattern, she did not expect him to make it through the night. Well, he didn't even make it til sundown. It's sad that she's had enough experience to be spot-on.

If E.R. had lived until July 3rd, he and Joanne would have been married 60 years. Sixty years together. They were never able to have children, and she cried herself to sleep many times over that. They tried to adopt once, but the birth mother changed her mind at the last moment, which, needless to say, traumatized them. Sixty years, only the two of them. They lived together, alone, in Roanoke until E.R. was hospitalized 4 weeks ago - when they found the cancer. When their life together began to be torn slowly down the middle. Sixty years together, and now she is alone. She's alone and she has dementia. While yesterday she understood that he had passed away and was no longer in pain, at night she searches for him. This morning she sobbed that she could not find him. She worries about him. Sixty years of caring gently for each other, calling each other "my love." She's concerned for his welfare when really, he's in the best shape he's ever been, in the best hands he could be. He's celebrating his long Earthly life as he begins his endless eternal life in the presence of the Father.

Joanne, locked in the confines of her failing human mind, laid her hand on my arm Sunday and tearily asked "can you help my husband? I'm just so worried about him. I love that man. I don't want anything to happen to him." Oh. Oh my. What can you say?

Her husband is in peace, but she will be anything but peaceful until they meet again. Heartbreaking.

1 comment:

  1. Heartbreaking, indeed. But what a beautiful real-life love story! So inspiring!