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Prayer of Renewal

DSC_0149The Paul Noth cartoon in the December 15, 2014 issue of The New Yorker shows two older women sitting at a bar. One of them has a lit cigarette, and both are holding drinks. The conversation appears to be serious. The caption reads: “O.K., one last big rhubarb score. But then I’m out of the pie game for good.”

Ted should have seen this cartoon. It was nearly hand-picked for him. He was an avid reader of books, newspapers, journals, and this particular magazine. It was one of the few pieces of mail that promptly fell into his open, waiting hands to be read, the bills and business matters set aside. My husband loved his New Yorker, and he loved rhubarb pie, especially the soft, buttery-crusted version our neighbor Sue made for him each year on his birthday, which coincided with rhubarb season.

It was exactly three months ago, as I began to write this, that Ted took his last gentle breaths. The understated, talented man with a loving soul died in my arms after a feisty, three and a half year, kick-ass battle with brain cancer.

Brain cancer. A nasty thief, stealing one ability after another, reducing a strong, active lover of nature into someone needing help with the simplest of tasks. Little by little, compromises, replacements…the smallest pleasures coming clearly and purposely into focus. During his last fully conscious day, I fed him bits of food, rewarded by small moans of enjoyment with each taste of the pot roast dinner so lovingly prepared for him at Hospice by a kindhearted muscleman named Norm.

As I look at the cartoon again and again, what I think about is that Ted’s missing it. I’m missing him, yet he’s missing so much: the cartoons, the first snow, the wild turkeys that jiggle and sprint their way across our front lawn in Westbrook, Maine…the brilliant visual antiphony of lights inside the house, strung up by our friends a few days before Christmas, when I had no ability to do so myself in my heartache and despair.

From the small things of daily life to the significant experiences, present and yet to come, I think about how he will miss out. Those events that deepen, that connect – the grandchild milestones, gatherings with friends and family, the book we were writing together…songs unsung…the trip to Niagra Falls we’d talked about. So frustrating for me, and then for families who lose those much too soon, there are a whole new set of dreams unfulfilled, the pain of which permeates daily thought. Thoughts which, possibly transmitted into something we call prayer, transcend our sophisticated electronics to lodge in another zone of space and time.

Our tears spill onto the dirt and evaporate into eternity, whispered pleas piped outward, maybe to the soul of God himself, carrying the sensory impressions of our eyes and ears and taste and words, to those whom we are still connected, to the willowy cushions of their souls, maybe even transferring the images that absorb the strokes of a single cartoon on a page in a magazine.


Published inThoughts from MEUncategorized


  1. Sandy Sandy

    Lovely words from a lovely,caring, beautiful person. I miss him and think of you both daily. I hope the wonderful memories comfort and sustain you til you see him again. I wish I could take the pain away, but it is a necessary part of life. Love you.

    • Kathy Kathy

      Thank you, Sandy. It’s so important to me to hear that others miss him, too. He loved you.

  2. So eloquent. I don’t know how your brain was able to put words together so beautifully so soon after losing your husband. Just keep doing it.

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