A post by May in the Bay made me think about a couple I met at the Hospice this semester. The patient, whom we'll call Louise, was gracious and funny; as I treated her, her husband walked into the room with a flower he'd picked from the gardens that lie all around the facility.
"Here's a posy for you, dear," he said, presenting her with it, and then they kissed and carried on and flirted in front of me for a few minutes before he stepped back out, insisting that he felt that she'd get more benefit from her acupuncture treatment if she and I were alone in the room, so that all my attention would be entirely focused on her.
After he'd left, I commented on how sweet he was. She told me they'd been married for sixty-three years. Sixty-three years! And they were so clearly, so deeply in love--and in like with each other. A few days later I was back in her room and was able to watch them interact; they shared a dry, relaxed sense of humor and laughed together over memories of past anniversary parties gone awry in this way or that. They talked about the apricot trees being neglected, but fruiting nonetheless, in their neighbor's yard; he offered to cook some up with sugar and bring them to her.
Sixty-three years, and even though their time here together was winding to a close, it was clear that their primary shared thought was not "What a shame that we do not have more time," so much as "What a time we have had."
I am not religious, but I do believe in prayer, or at least in the idea of putting out an idea, a wish, a vibe, or a need to the universe or God or the Jedi Force or whatever you want to call whatever is running things. I believe in it because whenever I do it I am answered and buoyed, and I believe in gratitude for the answers above everything else. Every day in some way or another I pray for peace of mind and for the courage to love with an open heart. I am answered with Jam Guy, with my wonderful friends, with my crazy and complicated but deeply committed family. And with my patients. If Jam Guy and I can find our way to the kind of partnership that Louise and her husband share, I will have been answered everything I can possibly imagine asking for about being married.