The image is starting to fade a bit—
the toothless gape, the three breaths for every one of mine,
the curved spine, frozen by arthritis and osteoporosis,
the starving frame—long, thick bones, draped in sagging flesh.
So unlike the strong shelter I knew.
The image is starting to fade of the sometimes vacant eyes,
the silken white hair, the all but soundless ears, receiving songs
and whispers in long night vigils,
the velvet fingers so unlike the rough, blackened hands I knew.
The feeling is starting to fade of the warm life
stealing from my fingertips, replaced by creeping cold stillness—
so unlike the pulsing strength I knew.
Are you happy now?
Are you strong again?
Are you satisfied that you lived your life well?
Did He say a “well done”?
The silhouette of a sweeping curve, a lifeless spine in your hospital bed
is most of what is left in my mind’s eye.
But the pictures I’ve been thumbing through are replacing the pain of those last moments,
replacing them with what you have left me—strength, loyalty, truth, faithfulness, godliness, fervent affection, endurance . . .
Sept. 5, 1921 – Jan. 15, 2008