The next morning my wife asked me to help her with a couple of cuff links--small little things that were to be threaded through the eyes on her blouse cuffs and then snapped snug at the wrists.
Try as I might, I could not accomplish the task. Every possible conspirator conspired against me--my fading vision, my shaking hands, the numbness in my fingers. She may as well have asked a camel or a giraffe to do the job.
Frustrated, she dismissed me, saying that she would do it herself, as usual.
I was feeling kind of low after that, and so by and by I returned to the bedroom to see if I could try again. I found her sitting on the bed, shoulders shaking, a teardrop rolling down either cheek.
And so I knelt by the bed and hugged her. I just stayed there and hugged her.
Why do you have to be the one with MS?" she said, catching her breath, forcing back tears. Why couldn't it have been your crappy ex-wife, or one of her kids, or . . . just someone else?
Well, it's okay. It's okay. It could have been worse. It could have been cancer, it could have been heart disease. It's not so bad.
For you, she says, for you. But I don't want to be alone, I can't be, I can't stand it.
Her shoulders are shaking again, she can't catch her breath, she's holding on tight as if I will soon slip through her arms like a scarf or a cloud.
I did not know she felt this way. Somehow, I did not know.
And so I told her that I would never leave. I told her that I would live forever if need be. I promised her so, and a promise is a promise, an oath is an oath.
The rest is up to He who collects and cares for such things.