This story is dedicated to (and about) my aunt and uncle. She passed in November, 2015, and he passed this past week in January, 2019.
Throughout their marriage she was devoted to him. Cooking their meals, cleaning their house, arranging their lives, mothering their children, and supporting him in all his endeavors. She made his life and work possible.
Their marriage, like others, had its ups and downs. There were the fights, with raised voices slipping under their bedroom door and echoing down the hallway. There were cold shoulders, thin lipped looks, and brusque interactions. But generally, those were pit stops in a marriage paved with love and mutual respect. One of kisses out the door, reading to each other late at night, clasped hands in the shadows, and laughter that lit up their gently aging faces.
Eventually, as in every story, the inevitable moment of change arrived. The day when, while on the phone to her sister-in-law, speech escaped her.
One after another the words, once effortlessly tumbling from her mind, were lost on a slippery tongue that could no longer hold them. Slowly her hands, which had been counted on for the most fabulous dishes and the most elegant hems, became jerky and stiff. And their marriage, which had moved like a well-known dance for decades, suddenly found new steps added by an unknown choreographer.
At first he resisted. A doctor himself, he plunged into research and consultations. They wove in and out of waiting rooms and exam chairs until hopes were exhausted; there is no cure for Parkinson’s. As she looked at him, with depths of love she could no longer verbalize, he surrendered.
In surrendering he began to sing.
He sang to her as he helped her dress, and as he washed her hair. He sang to her as he lifted her spoon, singing of the love they shared. His song spoke of their adventures. The mountains they climbed, the paths they trod, the children they raised, the life they built together. He sung her all of their stories again and again, offering escape. She lovingly listened day after day, body turning to stone, mind living through his song.
He sang all the way through the end, sending her spirit sailing off on swirling melodies composed by his soul to carry his beloved into the beyond.
When he finished we wept. For what we had not realized in those last years was his song had become her voice. It danced the steps her feet no longer could, and caressed us in the absence of her touch.
At last we understood the silence of a life completed.
His song was his gift to her – recognition of a lifetime of love and devotion. Now his spirit flies forth on the echos of their love, joining hers in an eternal embrace.