“Where could she be?” he frantically wondered. Where had she gone on a morning like this?
The frosty grass sparkled in the sunlight and his breath spiraled around him in the crisp morning air. “Was she wearing a coat? Did she have her shoes?” he thought.
Fear gripped his heart like a rabid dog and wouldn’t let go. This wasn’t the first time he had been out looking for her but it seemed that each time that rabid dog got more and more vicious. He knew the time was coming quickly. They had both agreed that it would be for the best but he wanted to put it off as long as he could.
Where was she? As he jumped in his car to cruise their neighborhood in his hunt for her, his mind wandered back to the day he first met her . . .
He was a busy grad student, overwhelmed with work and studies; he had no time for relationships. They would only complicate an already complicated schedule. Late to class as usual, he cut a corner and ran smack into the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Her books scattered everywhere and he bent down to retrieve them for her.
To this day he doesn’t know what possessed him to ask her out but he did and amazingly she said yes!
Even in his fear, he couldn’t help but smile as he reflected on the difference she had made in his life. How she had softened the sharp edges of his personality and melted that frozen lake that for so long had stood guard over his heart.
The best day of his life was the day she walked down the aisle and straight into his arms. He just knew he was the luckiest man alive and often he wondered why she ever had chosen him.
They had lived, laughed and loved. Their life together was beautiful and 40 years later he loved her even more than the day he had said his vows to her. Oh, they had their fare share of problems and disagreements. Her third miscarriage about tore her heart out and he felt so inept to help her but they had struggled through somehow. . .
It was just little things at first – the milk in the cupboard, the stove left on all day. Then it seemed to him that she began to turn inward – there were less and less conversations, more “yes” and “no” answers to his questions.
How vividly he remembered that day at the doctor’s office. He would never forget it as long as he lived. Alzheimer’s rang like a death knell in the little office and it confirmed what he already knew to be true in his heart.
Not much was said on the drive home but as he pulled into the driveway, he glanced at her and saw a tear trickling down her wrinkled cheek. He put the car in park and turned off the motor.
The years fell away and he gazed on her like he did on the day of their wedding – so beautiful and radiant, so filled with promise. He pulled her into his arms, gently tucked her hair behind her ear and whispered, “Agnes,I promise to love, honor and cherish you, whether for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health until death us do part.”
The first time he had said those words, it was with deep conviction but much ignorance. He had no idea what he was promising.
But that day, there was no ignorance, he knew what those words would cost him but he was willing to pay the price. She had given him so much – how could he do anything less. . .
“I should check the park” he told himself, “She loves the swings.”
There she was, still so beautiful in his eyes. He smiled and that rabid dog finally let go of his heart.
She looked up at him and smiled no sign of recognition on her face. “Want to swing?”
“Yes, yes I do want to swing.” And as he swung he whispered, “For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until death us do part I will always love, honor and cherish you, my dear sweet Agnes!”
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