I was cherished in this life.
Cherished by a man who determined, from the time of meeting, that I was the one for him.
Cherished by a man who set out to show that love to me each and every day of our lives together, in word and deed.
This is the time, 3 years ago, that my beloved husband, Chuck, and I, began, so very unknowingly, our final 2 months together. If possible, as our world narrowed into physical pain and emotional trauma, our love expanded and deepened.
I was cherished in our healthy years, and in our cancer times. No matter what, Chuck sought to love me even as his brow furrowed in distress and discomfort.
Oh, how he cherished me. And, oh, how I remember his kisses upon my lips, on the top of my head, and on my hand as he’d take it in his as we finished dancing, and raise it to his lips, as a gentleman of old would have done.
His kisses rained down upon me on every occasion. I recall reading a book about relationships early in our marriage, suggesting that a couple kiss consciously, rather than, say, a quick peck on the cheek. I mentioned that little fact to him and he put it into practice immediately. Our kisses at the door, as he left for work, or at the door, when he arrived home, lingered for up to a minute. Sometimes we’d tease each other if we left the kiss too soon, so we’d start all over again.
He kissed me under the full moon as we sat on the curb in New Hampshire, our first weekend away together.
He kissed me under a full moon as we gazed at it in New Jersey, when I rented my first apartment after living with my mom post-divorce, and we stood on the balcony, savoring the pure contentedness of having our own space.
He kissed me again under that full moon in Indiana when we visited his folks, and he came to get me, grabbing my hand, wanting me to share the brightness and beauty of that full moon with him from their front porch.
He kissed me, every time he kissed me, with passion, with so much love, with possessiveness, with happiness, with pure pleasure…and I kissed him back with the same fire. His hand behind my neck, or cupping my chin in his hands, pulling me to him…sometimes stooping down a bit, as he was taller than I, but just as much I loved to stand on tiptoe and put my arms around his neck and feel his arms around me, holding me closely and tightly…
In those final weeks before making our wild and unplanned for trip to the ER in southern California, something in the depths of my heart murmured to me and said remember this and after we kissed I’d stand on tiptoe again, leaning in close to where his neck and shoulders joined and I’d inhale deeply. He noticed, of course, and asked me about it and I said to him I’m memorizing you… He smiled, figuring I’d picked up another tidbit from another book.
We kissed in the hospital, and in hospice. It was I, then, who would lean down to him, in the hospital bed, or at the mirror in the bathroom as he studied his image, wondering, I’m sure, what the fuck had happened to his face and body. I’d see that look and I’d turn him to me and take his face between my two hands and say you’re still my knight in shining armor you’re still the handsomest man I’ve ever met…
I leaned down to kiss him when he could no longer kiss me because his spirit was no longer in his body. In that kiss that I pressed upon the lips of this man I loved more than my own breath was the love of 24 years and every full moon we’d gazed upon, and every dance we’d ever danced and every piece of my heart and soul.
That last kiss held all of the honor he’d given me, and all that I’d returned to him in our living love story. In that last kiss was our beginning, all of our wonderful in-betweens, and our end…
My dearest, my most beloved husband…Chuck Dearing…