The Two Beds
Their faces used to be of a supreme joy. Their eyes were of a sparkling warmth. Their hearts of an intense and everlasting love. A love for their children, grandchildren, and most of all, each other. She had become ill a little earlier than he had. Her fragile bones got too weak to even stand, so she made a sofa her new home. Her children and her grandchildren visited her upon it. She began to lack in motivation to live as she began to eat little and her body grew small. He stood idly by and watched his wife deteriorate right before his eyes. Her warmth was the only morsel of her not to be shadowed. Her kindness and generosity to her family remained still. He looked down upon her not with pity, but a devotion. A true testament that he knew stood to pass the test of time.
His own fate came to a crashing halt as he was diagnosed with cancer. His life, and hers, flashed before his eyes. He wanted so badly to pull her from the darkness of the sofa and teach her to walk once again. To regain strength and pursue life with him. He wasn’t going to become a hermit because of the diagnosis. He was going to live life as he always had, as if no cancer was poisoning his body.
Soon after his diagnosis, her health worsened so badly that a hospital bed had to be wheeled into their home, replacing the sofa as her new chamber. She was placed on an oxygen machine and an at – home nurse was assigned to take care of her. Her children were there by her side. But even closer to the bedside was him. He was with her day in and day out as more and more life was drained from her frail body. He hated the thought of climbing the narrow stairs to their bedroom, to the bed where they both had once slept together in joyous slumber. He hated the thought of leaving her downstairs alone.
Slowly, as he watched her become even more of a skeleton, he saw the light extinguish in himself. He became weak and it became hard for him to breathe. She could do absolutely nothing to help him regain strength. All she could do was command her family to do it for her. To take her beloved with them on their pursuits in life. So their children took him to church, to breakfast and out to his favorite past time, fishing. He still weakened from the treatment of the cancer, though. It became hard enough to climb the stairs each night. He was always so tired and his muscles found it difficult to mount the steps and grasp the rail.
So to help him treat his wife’s suffering, and his own, he rallied his sons and their sons to take the bed apart. He helped them haul it down the stairs and into the adjoining room so that he could be near his wife. If he heard her stir in the night, he could tend to her every need, where her eyes would fill with tears, for she loved seeing his face. He loved her so.
Even though he was just in the next room, he felt her drift further and further from him. His eyes would swell each and every night when he thought about how it used to be. Him and her in love, his courting of her until their abrupt marriage and the birth of their six beautiful children. Who, down the road, would have their own children. He smiled on a wet pillow, through the tears on his face. They had been great together, became the high beings in a grand family. He couldn’t stand to see her like this, in the state that she was in. His heart hurt him so, to perform his tedious acts of care toward her, only to have her give up. He was angry with her for her resignation of life.
But little did he know that she was holding onto life with both hands gripped tightly. She was going to watch her family blossom into a full four generations of strong-willed Catholics. Her strength was great and her mind was strong, even if her little body didn’t show it lying in the hospital bed. She was going to live, not for herself, not for him, but for her grandchildren, to see their smiling faces each time they visited.
Lying in bed, listening to the sounds of the street outside, he began to slowly let go. He hated being apart from her. He hated the fact that they now had to sleep in separate beds. His eyes swelled even more as he heard her meek coughs and the exhaust of the oxygen machine in the next room. He hated the sound of that machine’s motor. It only reminded him of her poor condition. But as fate would have it, his health worsened and he had to be attached to one of the oxygen machines. His was portable so he could still be mobile and not be condemned to an eternity of lying in bed like the misfortune she had encountered.
Their children saw how difficult it was for the both of them to live together. It was so tiring for him to care for her. The thought of a nursing home was put on the table, but he pleaded against that, telling them to do anything other than put her in a home. They granted his wish and made trivial efforts to help keep the glue that held the family together. They cooked dinners, helped care for her, and visited with their families often. Yet he was dissatisfied. His sorrow built up and it worsened his health. At times he would just stand near the steps and watch her small chest move up and down taking in all the air her meek lungs could.
They began to talk nonsense together. They contemplated suicide, telling their children to fetch the shotgun from the attic. The family knew this to be nothing but talk, for they were both hardcore believers of Catholicism and if they committed suicide, they would go to hell. They couldn’t have that. They wanted nothing more than to live together in the warm light of the Lord’s rays.
Even though the family didn’t think it possible, her health worsened even more. She was on her last leg and the hospice nurse was called in to help with her suffering. He cried even harder at this as he stayed in the dining room away from the horrifying scene in the hospital bed. All the members of their large family came to the house, where the celebrations of Christmas and Easter as well as many other family gatherings had taken place, to see her. The priest had come at last to give her her last respects and to open the gate to God’s kingdom. Their last words to her were words of love.
Knowing that her family was taken care of and that they would be fine without her, she finally let go. Her body became limp and she ceased to breathe another breath. He again, stayed away from it all as the family looked upon her body with eyes of love. Their children began to plan the ceremony that would be her funeral, giving into his every want for her burial. She was gone and he couldn’t believe it. Her passing was but only a shock to him.
His sons and daughters stayed with him there the nights following her death. In the vast, empty darkness of the night after her death, he put new sheets upon the hospital bed and laid upon it. He could still feel the warmth of her body lying upon the mattress, so it felt like she was there with him. Their children were both sorrowful of their mother’s death and for the build up of guilt and sadness of their father.
Three days following her death in the hospital bed, he began to cough up blood. The color of absolute and complete sorrow poured from him. He went to get up, tripped, and hit his head. More blood seeped. He was dying. His face was masked with the sorrow of her death. She was gone, she had entered the Lord’s embrace. Her soul was safe and he heard her calling him to her side. He had to be with her. To be by her side and enter the Lord’s kingdom as they had talked about. So he let go of life and all his achievements in the same bed his wife had. His death came as a total shock to the entire family and sadness reigned over all of them.
The only thing that kept them all from self-destruction was the thought that this was what they both wanted. They had entered the Lord’s kingdom together. They held hands as they walked passed the shiny gates of heaven, where they could again live together in love forever.