85: As She Sleeps

85: As She Sleeps

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

As She Sleeps

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

~Robert Ingersoll

I sit in a chair next to her. I watch as her chest rises and falls with each breath. I listen to the sound of her breathing, a soft comforting sound. I reach out and hold her hand; she stirs, but does not wake. Instinctively her hand closes around mine, like it has done so often before. I kiss her cheek gently. I whisper, “I love you.” Still asleep, a smile spreads across her face. She has heard me. I sit back into the chair, still holding her hand and I think: Does she know how much I love her? Does she know how much I care? Does she know I am here?

I remember the days of our youth, two teenagers in love. How I loved to hug her and to hold her, to feel her arms wrapped around me. I remember how I asked her to be mine, for now and for all time. I see the tears in her eyes as she looks at me, not answering at first, then a smile and a soft yes. I see us fall into each other’s arms; I remember the smell of the rose I gave her. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

I see our wedding day — two young adults, not children anymore, too young some say, but we are in love and we know it is a true and deep love. I remember how nervous I was that day; my knees were weak, and I was holding her hand so tight. When she said, “I do,” I saw her sweet gentle smile. I remember the kiss at the end of the ceremony and I remember the smell of the roses in her bouquet. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

I remember the day our daughter was born. How I held her hand. This time she was scared; I held her hand, telling her I was there for her. I remember the look in her eyes as she saw our daughter for the first time. I remember her soft smile as she looked at me and mouthed, “I love you. I remember the smell of the roses I gave to her after our daughter was born. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

I see the day our son was born; the day I nearly lost her and our son because of complications. I see how I fell to the floor, and on my knees I unashamedly cried and asked God to please let them survive. It was a long recovery, but I remember the smell of roses I had delivered to her room. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

I remember our twentieth anniversary. I took a vacation that week and I remember cooking dinner for her that night. She came home; I had made steaks and baked a cake. We celebrated with our children. We exchanged gifts. After we finished eating I put “Color My World,” our song, on the stereo, and we danced, we embraced and held each other tight. I remember the smell of the twenty roses I gave her that night. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

I think about the Columbus Day Ball. I see her in her wheelchair, how embarrassed she was when I took her in the chair onto the dance floor and we danced; we danced to “The Dance.” We were alone on the dance floor; no one wanted to intrude on us. After the dance I knelt in front of her and we hugged — we held each other tight. I remember the smell of roses from her corsage. I wonder if she dreams of this as she sleeps.

As she sleeps, she breathes her last; she was tired and needed to rest. I look at her and stroke her face, I run my fingers through her hair, I hold her hand tight, tighter than I ever did before. My tears fall from my eyes onto her cheeks as I kiss her again and say goodbye. As I rise, I smell the roses. There are no roses in the room. I ask the nurse where the aroma is coming from, and she answers that she doesn’t smell them. I know now, as she sleeps, she dreams of all of this.

 

~Mark Anthony Rosolowski

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