My day started reading this attached story, about the untimely death of an otherwise healthy, vibrant 42 year old. Again I found my heart at a crossroad: both broken and warmed. The lead line of the story, “Maura Lewinger says her husband, Joe, wrote her love letters every morning and left them in her lunch box.” She continues to describe the carefully crafted letters that were unique to their relationship. I see a shift and reevaluation with many in this time; as we take note of our priorities. What a gift that within this couple, reaffirmations of their love were routine. And how rare that is!
As the story continued about the shocking, fast downturn of Joe’s health, my heart filled reading about the doctor facilitating the final gesture of love from the wife to the husband via FaceTime:
“I thanked him for being the most amazing husband, for making me feel cherished and loved every single day," Lewinger said she told her husband.
The doctor then told her Joe's pulse was gone.
"I played our wedding song for him. And then that was it," Lewinger said.
Perhaps in this time, priorities will shift and relationships will deepen. As a Hospice Chaplain, I often shared with loved ones of a patient at end of life to leave nothing left unsaid. That each time they left the patient in the final days… say it all… as if it were the last time. If they returned the next day and the patient was still alive, I offered to consider that a gift of one more day… and another chance to share all the love again.
I have had to take my own advice with my own loved ones. The final night of my former husband’s life, I needed to say that to my children… leave nothing left unsaid… as they said goodnight. We did not know if he would live to the next day. That was another time my heart was at a crossroad: broken and warmed; as my children shared from deep within their hearts that which would remain. Our loved one died less than three hours after that sharing, and after our children were taken home from the hospital for the night. I held him as he took his last breath. We had the time to be together that whole 30+ hours in the ICU… and listened to readings of scripture from our wedding; and ironically he restated our wedding vows to me. That’s another story for another time. My point is the depth of pain for all these human beings... that they are NOT be able to be with their loved one at end of life.
What a world we would have if we left nothing left unsaid each day, and wrote love letters to one another, and reaffirmed the value of being connected? And there is a big part about forgiving and letting things go… identifying what is truly important.
I don’t know… maybe that is one of the gifts at this time. I don’t want to rush to the rose colored glasses on. It is important to feel the depth of pain and sorrow.
For Maura and Joe; and for all those who have had to let one go, this is what I share this night…
Love of my life You hold my heart in yours as I awaken to the depths and desperation of our love. How can I share you with God? I cling to you. Each breath, each smile, each pulse is so very precious, pregnant with its intensity. Alive for yet another moment. And yet I know somehow I must let go. Unwrap my grip on our togetherness Shift my clinging into an offering I want you to be only mine And yet love’s greater song calls. It’s time to share you, release you Open my heart and let you soar…
—by Jude Tretheway, “Be Mine… Not God’s.” February 6, 2001
Originally Published to Facebook on April 6th, 2020 at https://www.facebook.com/creativecarolcelebrant/posts/151262249697308