He complained that evening that he wasn’t feeling well, something about his back hurting, up high, between the shoulder blades. It didn’t seem like anything severe or serious and neither of them thought much about it. His usual routine was to spend most of the night on the computer and then go to bed about the time his wife was leaving for work in the morning. But that night, he turned in early.
She stayed downstairs, grading the pile of papers from her English classes. Later, one or two papers after she’d gone brain dead, she’d wearily climbed the stairs and readied herself for bed. She pulled back her corner of the covers quietly and eased into bed as gently as she could, hoping she wouldn’t disturb him. She slipped into sleep quickly and easily.
In the morning, he lay still and un-stirring and she slid out of bed as quietly as she had slid in the night before. She took her shower, fixed her hair and made ready for the start of another week. Another routine week of teaching class, grading papers and what little bit of social interaction there might be in the quiet life she lived. Then, just as she was about to leave, she went back into the bedroom to tell him she was going.
“Surely he is awake by now,” she thought, softly pushing the door open. But, no, he still hadn’t stirred, still lay there quietly. She noticed then, somehow, that he was too still, too quiet.
It occurred to her, in the after-shock, that she really had no idea how long he’d been lying there like that. In the dark, in the quiet, in her careful avoidance of doing anything to disturb him, she would not have known it if he had been dead already when she came to bed. Or, he might have had the heart attack while she was in the shower just thirty minutes earlier. She hated thinking he had died in that quiet aloneness, thinking that he could have passed away during the night. “How could he have died right there beside me and I had no idea that he was even in trouble?” she sobbed.
We cannot spend our lives in the constant worry of the thousand different things that could change without notice. We cannot go about our work in continual fear of all the things that could go wrong. But we should live keenly aware of every blessing, every precious friend, every sacred moment.
And ever ready to share the joys and trials of this fragile and capricious world.