I sit beside your bed through the long, long night and I pray for the first time in years.
‘It won’t be long…’ said the kindly doctor, squeezing my shoulder gently before he left the room and yet I re-visit our whole lifetime between sunset and dawn.
I recall my resentment as I sat beside you on sunny Sundays while the preacher threatened eternal damnation… but you remained my Rock of Ages through every storm.
I often turned away when you advised, suggested or tactfully hinted at solutions to my frequent dilemmas and dreadful choice of partners. You silently implored with sorrow-filled eyes but never once said, ‘I told you so.’ You would sit with me as I purged my soul. You didn’t judge, didn’t complain. You just listened.
Pollyanna-like you turned every tragedy, and there were many, into a triumph but here now in my darkest, darkest hour there is no rainbow. I can find no gladness. My rock is crumbling before my eyes.
How can you be taken now? Why has your God forsaken me, when I need you more than ever?
In the early hours you draw your final rasping breath and your once strong hand slips from mine onto the coarse cotton coverlet below.
A nurse brings a mug of lukewarm tea with a generic biscuit.
As the first golden sun rays filter through the half-closed blinds, I kiss your cheek one last time and bid you goodbye.
Then as I stumble along rabbit warren corridors alone… I hear the cry of a new born babe.
My prayer is answered.