Many many years ago I worked as an inpatient oncology nurse. I was chemo certified so part of my job was to administer intravenous chemotherapy to our patients who came in strictly on an out-patient basis. These people were not as immuno-compromised as our overnight patients. They came in, stayed for a few hours while they received their medication, and then - if all went well - they went home. Most times they were accompanied by family members. That gave me a chance to observe how the family dynamics were doing with the stress of the illness, do some teaching, offer support, and just enjoy the interactions.
Even though this was over 20 years ago, I still remember one particular married couple.They were probably both in their sixties. The woman was the patient, receiving chemo for advanced stage breast cancer. She looked as though she had lost weight recently and her bald head was wrapped in a colorful scarf. But it was obvious that they had a wonderful loving relationship just by how they interacted with each other. Her husband doted on her, sitting with her while she underwent treatment, anticipating her every need. I know he was probably feeling very helpless and wanted to do what he could - anything - to lighten her burden. Over the course of her time with us, I got to know them fairly well.
Once, I remember she was going to read a magazine to while away the time and she pulled out her glasses from the bottom of her purse. Right away her husband jumped up and held out his hand.
"Here, let me clean those for you," he said.
He immediately went over to the sink in the room and lovingly washed and dried her glasses before handing them back to her.
It was a small gesture. Something we all do every day.
And yet to this day, whenever I wash my own glasses I think of him. That one small gesture said volumes.
She was loved. Cherished. Cared for.
It's the little small things we do for each other that make up the bigger picture of our lives.
And when death robs us of our loved ones, our hands hang idle, longing to do one more loving act.
I ache to be able to caress the soft spot next to John's eyes.
I wish I could cook one of his favorite meals for him again.
Or surprise him with a bag of red vines - his favorite candy.
I often think of the times John would go grocery shopping and come back with a bouquet of flowers for me.
Or make my coffee just the way I liked it.
Or make me soup when I was ill.
It's the every day things that we miss.
Each and every day.
That couple I met all those years ago have probably gone on to the next World now but I still remember them and the lesson the husband taught me.
Little gestures of kindness, of affection, of saying I know you and I love you just the way you are are what make
the world go round.
Grab every opportunity. They are fleeting.