Carry On Tuesday – Stop All The Clocks….(W. H. Auden)

Little girl with a dead bird , Jens Adolph Jer...

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Gayle had been sick for years, but her demise was so slow, so painstakingly slow, that it was difficult to judge. She was always very soft-spoken, she talked with a delicate, hushed whisper, always. I always thought if she were an animal, she would be a beautiful young doe.  She was to me still  a beautiful doe, but now older deer and very sick. She wanted no visitors, no-one at all except for her beloved husband of 55 years who remained the love of her life. They wanted only each other through good times and bad; it seemed unimaginable, a love like no other. As you get older that there are not only few happy endings but none.

Her doctor has sent his nurse to their apartment once a week now to check her vital signs; that was the most he could do for her. Her breathing was labored, her muscles had atrophied, she no longer could walk. Paul, her husband, did everything for her; he carried her from room to room, he coaxed  her to eat a teaspoon of chocolate pudding, he sat near her when she was sleeping. He didn’t want her to wake up from a long nap afraid, her voice was so low he was afraid she would call for him and he wouldn’t hear her. He had workers come and put intercoms throughout their house. It made him feel better, to know they were installed even though she probably didn’t have enough strength to push the button.

One afternoon,after she was asleep, he went to his office for a few moments to pay some bills, to grieve for a few moments by himself. This burly, big-hearted man had become nothing but a shell of himself. Once burly and robust he was now thin, his face sallow, the light in his eyes gone. He rubbed his face with his hands, dried the tears, and a long, deep breath and slowly walked back into their bedroom.

He knew something was wrong the second he opened their door, he could sense it without seeing anything or hearing anything. “Gayle” he shouted, “Gayle, wake up” but of course, she didn’t.  He sobbed and shook her, his beautiful wife, cold and stiff, dead, like a tiny dead bird. He screamed, “It was just one minute, why, Jesus, why did you have to take her in those few minutes?” He laid down next to her and bawled like a child. This was a love so primitive, his only love.

He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t do anything for a long time. He stayed on the bed with her, not moving, not being able to call their children or close friends.”Stop all the clocks, let time stand still, I can’t go on without her” he sobbed. He got up once, many hours later when it was dark outside. He tiptoed to his locked cabinet where he had secretly kept a gun that no one knew about. He got back on to the bed, next to his beloved and at some time in the middle of the night he shot himself in the head, and died next to her.

Nobody knew for two or three days; a concerned friend, after trying to call them for days, finally called the police. The police found them together, in bed, both dead, Life was not worth living without his wife, he had always said. He meant it.

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Praying For Dawn

The Dead Sea just before sunrise. The picture ...

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It starts in the evening, the darkening of the sky, winds starting to get cold enough to slap your face; you try to remember what summer felt like. It all goes by so quickly that we are all taken by surprise. A friend looks weak and frail and even though you see her from a distance, you gasp inwardly and feel your stomach plummeting right down to your now-numb toes. You pray, you hope, you wish on the first star that sparkles brightly in the too-black sky.

This is a story about a real woman, a beautiful woman with three lovely children and a wonderful husband. A woman who is nice to everybody she meets, and when out of interest you ask her how she is, she replies, always with a smile and the word “fine.” She doesn’t ask for help unless she really has to, she’s proud and positive and a very loving woman. This person has been sick in the past and we pray that she is not sick again but we fear that she might be.

Not too many people know details, people, friends, well-wishers talk and NOT out of malice or gossip, but only out of love and concern. There is a whole neighborhood where she lives that is on the watch for her, keeps an eye on her, follows her slow, measured walk.  People are always friendly to her incredible children because they are great kids; They love their mom with all their heart. Everyone loves her, she is a friend waiting to meet you. She makes a mark on your life so that you feel blessed to know her, to see her lightening-quick spirit, the stubborn warrior, the beautiful woman she is, inside and out.

In the middle of the night when things feel grossly exaggerated, and emotions run high, we look for dawn, for the first shimmer of hope, having made it through the night. Night time is for monsters, and anxiety, it’s where your dreams become nightmares and you are waiting for the sunrise to hurry. It’s only when dawn arrives that things feel more positive and hopeful.

It is staying up and saying “I will fight this” with the most determined, strong voice. Sunrise, sunlight, peacefulness brings hope. We pray, we weep, we think, we beg. Life is so unfair sometimes and this person does not deserve this; she deserves hope and treatment and the knowledge that good friends, acquaintances, people in the community love her dearly. She should know that she leaves an indelible mark on every person she meets and if you asked her if she knew this she would laugh heartily and deny it. We know the truth though, we all do.

We pray, we love, we ask God for blessings for everyone’s friend. Let the dawn come quickly and erase the troubled nights, replacing them with hope and a circle of love from far away and near-by. We pray for strength, courage and healing. We pray individually in a thousand different ways, we pray in groups, in hushed whispers; we all pray together, for one woman, for one family to be blessed with hope and strength and with great, everlasting love.