As I laid next to Marc in the hospital bed, I traced the column of his neck, his chin. I curled my hand around his shoulder and lingered there. I leaned closer, breathed in. My Marc was still there. I wanted to remember everything about him and file it deep inside for retrieval at a moment’s notice.
His four brothers entered, two by two. Unexpected but a welcome site. They gathered around the bed, talked to Marc as the ballgame drew attention away from the reality of the situation. Someone joked about how people say family was gathered bedside at the exact moment their loved one took their last breath. What were the odds of that happening?
Marc was listening.
The timing between his breaths lengthened. Each brother touched a part of Marc. Ankle, foot, arm. It didn’t matter. We were all connected to the man we loved. Silence was broken by loving thoughts, muttered sounds, a sniffle. The nurse was called. She turned on the monitor above and behind me. No sound. I glanced at the continuous line rising with his intermittent heartbeat. Marc gasped and the nurse pumped in extra morphine.
“Go see Doris. It’s okay to sit at her table. You know the one in the townhouse. Talk about what’s in the paper. I’ll see you soon.”
I leaned in and whispered in his ear. Something I’ll keep private. Was that a tear in his eye?
Marc, a man who didn’t like the spotlight, who often deferred to others, who would rather listen than lead a meeting. Marc, my man, orchestrated his last moments, giving us the perfect gift; to be part of the exact moment he was ushered from this world.
Moments after he passed, a swirl of something brilliant left his body. The force in which it corkscrewed skyward happened in a blink. I glanced back at the bed. My Marc was no longer there. Just a body. I don’t recall if I looked up or just saw behind my eyes a pleasing vision: Marc in his blue suit, a hand in his pocket, smiling as he chatted with another man.
Three months ago today Marc passed. I’m changing because I have no choice. My whole world is different, unfamiliar and scary at times. I remember him daily. I remember us. Marc made me a better person. And forever I will be grateful.