They met a month before I was born, in the summer of 1977 at a dance hall in Salt Lake City. He later confessed to her that he’d gone to the dance that night with the hope he’d “find himself a wife.” They married in Seattle three years later. On a sunny Wednesday, a little over a week ago, I was honored to see them together one last time.
He was asleep on the bed, and she was curled up next to him under the covers of their cheery yellow duvet. The tears running down her face mirrored my own. It was only my second time being allowed bedside in the expiring days of friend’s life. It felt intimate and intrusive to be in their bedroom, but unlike my last deathbed visit, I was cognizant of the blessing it was to be in their home and not a sterile hospital room.
After a few moments, she left the room to compose herself. Not knowing if he could hear me, and not quite sure what to say, I thanked him for being such a wonderful friend and husband. Gently rubbing his still-tan forearm, I thought about all the times he’d walked shirtless around the office where I was a manager and he was the resident handyman. I remembered how improper some of the female agents thought it was to see him that way in a “professional setting.” He was always carefree and smiling, and if someone needed to tell him to put a shirt on, it was never going to be me.
On the Saturday after my visit, his wife sent out an email. “My best friend and love died today at 5:15. He held my hand and left.”
I thought of them together, under the yellow duvet. In death, if only we could all be so fortunate.