Right before Michael got sick, we passed an older couple in the store who were holding hands. I said to him, “We never hold hands anymore.” I said it in a kidding way and he just smirked at me and said, “Yeah, it’s all downhill from here.”

I remembered one night when we were married a few years…I showed him a catalog that had those necklaces that have the heart and each person wears a half. I didn’t think that he, a tough little Harley dude, would even give them a second look. But not only did he, but asked where we could get them. I found them in Macys and he wanted to go there the next night.

I remember walking into the store holding hands and he seemed so excited, like a little kid. He once told me that I brought out romance and affection in him that he never knew was there. I remember on our first date he said he was a squoosh (and that became my nickname for him: squooshie or squoofie) so I said, “You told me you were a squoosh!” and he said, “But not like THIS!” and he pointed to my name on his chest. I went away for a week when we were married about six months and he got a tattoo with two hummingbirds in the shape of a heart holding a bannner with our names and wedding date. At first I was actually mad that he did it. It was irrational but what I figured out, later on, was that I never wanted to lose a guy who would have my name tatto’d on his chest. Especially a guy who would never do something like that.

I remembered the night we bought those necklaces thousands of times since. I will never forget his face walking into that store…holding my hand and acting like we were about to go on a million dollar shopping spree. He was just so damn happy…as if he was experiencing love, true love, for the first time…and he was loving it.

…………………………………………………………………..

Today we went for radiation for Michael’s first time as an outpatient. We got there and Michael doesn’t know the hospital like I do. That’s because he was in it and I was running around it…up and down and sideways. So he’s slowed down and he zones out and he doesn’t know where he’s going.

So I held his hand and was always a couple of paces ahead of him as we navigated the hallway. It didn’t feel romantic…it felt like leading a little kid…

When we got to radiation, they called him and trying to allow him as much independence as I can give him, I said “Do you know which room to go in honey?” and he didn’t say anything. The doctor turned and said, “Of course he doesn’t know. He was brought over by aides when he was here.” I wanted to smack the doctor right in the head. I was asking him rather than treat him like an idiot.

Of course I didn’t know which way to go either so we wound up in the wrong place until a nurse with an attitude (of course, do they make any other kind?) showed us, impatiently, where we needed to go.

When he came out from his treatment, I took his hand and was determined, as we walked out of that hospital, to walk like lovers and not like a mother and child.

I held my pace to his and walked slowly through the hallways hand in hand and side by side. We were ticking off the rushing doctors and nurses and allowing the swirl to swirl around us. We held tight to each other’s hand as we walked through the hallways as slow as he needed to go. Just before we got to the main entrance, I looked over at him. He smiled and winked at me.

And the doors opened.

And let us out.

Together.

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