Listening now, he heard his son, Jake, tell the other two boys
what a valiant fight their father had waged against the cancer,
which was now consuming his body. With pride they spoke in reverent
tones each wondering how much longer their father could persevere.
Lila sat close to her mother, tears streaking her face, waiting as
she always had. The thought of dying with family so close was not
on his agenda. Over the last two weeks, Joshua rarely had a moment
alone. He knew his family was tired. All the in-laws had gone home
and he heard his wife tell their children that they needed to go
home too. If something happened she told them that she would call.
Amid objections, each child finally gave in and went home but swore
they would be back early the next morning, which was really only an
Once the children left, Margie pulled her chair to the side of
his bed, took his hand and looked into his eyes. “Joshua,” she
said, “I love you and will until the day I die. I have always been
proud of you and don’t ever think I haven’t. Don’t try anymore to
hide the fact that you are suffering. I know you don’t want to hurt
us by leaving. And I really never wanted you to go without me
but I don’t want you hurting any longer. The children have gone
home and you can too now if you would like.”
With that, Margie lay her head beside her husband’s hand and
within seconds started the smooth, even sound of someone who is
sleeping after being very tired. Joshua listened to the sounds of
her sleeping and was grateful that he had her as a partner for all
the years he had.
The nurse quietly slipped into the room at one forty five A M.
Joshua held his finger to his lip and pointed to Margie’s head.
Nurse Betty smiled and left the room blessed by the thoughtfulness
of a man who could endure such pain and still tell the nurse to be
quiet enough for his wife to sleep.
At two thirty AM, Nurse Betty, re-entered Joshua’s room to find
his hand on his wife’s head. She was still asleep but Joshua was no
longer breathing. The nurse went silently to the bedside to find
that he was indeed dead. Good for you, she thought, you don’t have
to hurt anymore.
The nurse reached for Margie and gently shook her. Margie looked
up and Nurse Betty told her that Joshua was gone. But he wasn’t
really gone. Joshua’s spirit stood beside the bed and had watched
when Nurse Betty came into the room. He heard her thoughts just as
easily as if they had been spoken words. To him, this was