One day just before Thanksgiving my husband informed me that he was in love with another woman, just what I wanted to hear when my days and nights for more than 18 months had been in devoted service to him. And then, with a little smile on his parched lips, he identified the “other woman”.
Her name was Reva, an older, southern lady of great compassion. She was an aide for Hospice and visited every other day at first, then every day as the situation worsened.
At first my husband rejected Reva’s offer to bathe him and wash his hair. He was a stubborn man, and the fact that he needed help was yet another journey of acceptance for him. Eventually he relented. Reva bathed him with tenderness and I was certain her hands held much more than the soap and washcloth with which she cleansed his withered body. I believe she transmitted energy through her gentle touch and my husband seemed to respond to her sweet and loving spirit.
Over the days and weeks that Reva tended to his needs, and gave me a much-needed respite, my husband had fallen in love. I believe their eyes met on a level of stranger-to-stranger, then caregiver to patient, then human being to human being, both devoted to making the best out of what was happening.
Because of Reva, I was comfortable relinquishing some of the care giving to another person. Because of Reva and her humility and kindness, I was sure my loved one was being cared for with dignity and respect. Because of Reva, who on that last day took his blood pressure and looked at me with tears in her eyes, I was able to know – without words – that the end was near. And because of Reva, I was able to spend those last moments before the coma engulfed his spirit knowing the two of us – me and my husband’s “new love,” had cared for this man in an exceptional way.
This all occurred in the serene mountains of Waynesville, NC where we had moved to wait with acceptance for the inevitable. He was dying, and we knew it. Our only prayer had been for a peaceful death. As the holidays approached, we added one more request – to enjoy the holidays with our children. Thanksgiving and Christmas loomed before us with more depth and meaning than any time prior. We knew these holidays would be our last together.
And so, our prayers were answered!
We had wonderful holidays that year. My husband sat in his chair and watched his entire family as they gathered together to celebrate. He ate all the food he shouldn’t have, and enjoyed every minute of it.