In the darkness of a fall morning, he drew his last breath and squeezed the hand that held his.
Days on the oncology ward were filled with family and friends who traveled more than five hours to be with him. The stream of visitors was steady. The nurses commented one after the other about how unusual this was, "You must be quite a guy," they all remarked to my husband. "This is a testimony to how you live your life."
Those days in the Boston hospital stretched into just short of a month. The days turned into nights and my husband began to confuse night with day. Sometimes he would wake at 2 in the morning having slept on and off through most of the day. I reverted to my days of acclimating my sweet newborns to regular wake sleep patterns, but my efforts in the hospital did little to ignite any predictability as to when my husband would sleep or I as the caretaker should doze myself. So I slept when my husband slept.
My husband was never alone; our eight children, spouses and dear friends each stayed at the hospital through all those nights. We all found that the tiny little built in couch in the hospital room was quite comfortable and when we moved to a health care facility closer to home, the staff gave us a room with an extra bed. Our friend Stanley said he wanted to stay.
A cancer-surviving almost 80 year old dynamo, he sleeps little. Sedated my husband was lulled into a pain-free sleep after a nearly 6 hour bumpy ambulance ride from Boston to our little coastal island. I was relieved that my husband was no longer crying out in pain, but sleeping. I would see him in the morning and plan to spend the night with him after some sleep. We both needed sleep after the journey.
No surprise Stanley slept little that night. Instead he held his beloved friend's hand. This rough, but gentle lumberjack of a guy held my husband's hand and spoke of love until the end. This a testimony to my husband and the unquenchable power of love between men.