In the meadow, where the golden light never fades, The Chicken Keeper runs his hands through his hair…

She’s broken down several times today. She’s tired of the same thoughts of “WHY??”. He knows she won’t find an answer and actually, he wasn’t really given an answer either. There was a lot of explanation when he got here, but “why?” wasn’t one of the questions that was answered. He’s not even sure how it happened…but it did and now he’s whole again and she’s shattered.

The chickens squawk as they fight over something in the grass. He whistles to them and they come running with their eyes gleaming in the hopes that he’ll throw them some treats. Of course, he does.

They scatter into the long grass.

He wonders when it will get better for her or IF, it will ever get better for her. The others all have their own story…they have their own devastated loved ones to watch over. Some are wives, some are husbands, some are lovers, some are friends and some are children and family. All are broken now by the loss of the person they loved most. They all wait here in the golden meadow where it’s summer every day and where they try to be happy…but they’re troubled. He feels it too. It’s like he’s here, but not completely. Like a part of him that lives in her is still trapped in life. Here people sing and play instruments, but often a shadow of trouble crosses their face when they see their loved one…so far away…and so irreparably broken into so many pieces.

She rolls over on the bed where she’d been laying facedown on his pillow. Her face is red and her eyes are bleary and swollen with tears. She stares at the ceiling for a moment and then pulls herself up off the bed. She cries in the bedroom almost every day, with the door shut and completely silently. She returns to the living room and goes outside to stand by the chicken run…trying to find a moment of the love and peace she always finds when she’s with them, but although it’s there…it’s faded, like a memory that she’s not quite sure ever happened…or was it all just a dream?

He can see her standing by the chickens…weeping and murmuring to the flock. The hens gather at her feet while Jack burbles worried rooster noises. He watches her pace a little and then turn and stand and watch the chickens again. They make her smile a couple of times, and then she turns and walks sadly back to the house.

He presses his hands against his temples. He wishes he could fix this!! He wishes somebody HERE could fix this, but they’ve explained to him that no one can fix it. The others here in the meadow (and those who try to comfort her) have all said the same single syllable word…”Time”.

As he looks up to watch her again, she’s once more in a puddle of tears. Wishing for him, praying for him, begging for him and getting no answer from the Universe.
He lowers himself into his chair and wipes his cheeks and looks around to see if any of the others who are waiting have seen his tears…and then without another thought of them, he begins to sob.

Music In The Meadow

In the evening on Earth, when the light matches the light in the golden lit meadow, he feels the closest to her.


He puts down the guitar he’d been playing and gets up out of his chair. Prince murmurs to the flock. Chicken heads pop up from the grass everywhere, alerted by the rooster. He gets up to walk for a while. Sitting in the chair isn’t bad…in fact, it’s pretty nice. Lots of things are pretty nice up here. The others waiting are awesome people. Right away he found friends and they visit back and forth in the meadow often.

He watches her now. She’s been like a whirlwind today. Running errands, cleaning chick brooders, hauling feed and changing waters, hauling the pen around the yard, bringing the chicks out and then bringing them all back in again, getting groceries, planting things, pulling weeds, walking dogs…he doesn’t remember her ever being this busy…but at the same time, he doesn’t remember her ever being this sad. It makes him mad sometimes. He doesn’t want her to be sad. He gets WHY she’s sad but he’d prefer if this whole grief thing didn’t last as long as it apparently does. He really wants her to be happy again and to believe in herself more than she does right now. He wishes he could be there to support her. She hung on his every compliment.

He sits on the top of a hill with his legs out in front of him and leans back on his hands. He can tell that she’s tired. Not the kind of tired that needs a nap or even a good night’s sleep, but down to the bone tired. There’s so much for her to do. She does it and she rarely bitches about it. He’s proud that she’s taken on so much and is managing to get by.

He knew she could do it.

He watches her again. She’s propped on her arms typing on her laptop. He hopes she’s writing. He wishes she’d finish the damn book, but he’d only just gotten her going on it when his body freed him. He’d hoped that the momentum would continue, but she’s hopelessly stuck at chapter 9, right where he left her. She’ll get there…she just needs to believe she can do it.

She brought his mom an Easter Lily today. It touched his heart and he noticed it touched her heart too. She took eggs to two neighbors, as well. He realizes that she’s finding comfort by doing things for other people.

He sighs and thinks “whatever it takes”.

The Chicken Keeper rises and calls to the flock who have, of course, followed him. It’s time to walk back, it’s just a short distance across the meadow. He’s soon back to his chair and the chickens find places to roost in the trees behind him. The guitar is still there…he picks it up and feels the smooth surface and examines the exquisite construction. And then he positions then guitar…and begins to play.

He hopes she can hear it.


She squints against the bright light. It seems to be everywhere. She slowly stands and realizes that she can. She carefully moves her legs and they hold her. She sneezes in the bright light. A bluebird sings in the distance. It’s otherwise quiet. She shakes her head and licks her lips.
Something has changed.
She begins walking through the soft green grass toward a sound like the murmur of falling water. As she goes, she finds each movement easier, her eyesight seems ultra crisp, everything smells enticing. It’s as though a broken shell has fallen away and she runs freely, disturbing a cloud of tiny white moths as she glides through the grass. She feels unstoppable but she suddenly pulls up short.

Something is different.

She cocks her head to the music of a flowing brook. She’s nearly there it’s just over the hill.

And she sees it…and freezes.

In the distance is a bridge over that melodious running brook. She trots toward the bridge, not because of what she sees on the other side, but for who she sees standing on the bridge.

It’s The Man Who Disappeared.

He calls to her…”Jazzy!!! C’mere Jazz!”

And she bolts over the bridge to jump into his arms.

She Doesn’t Want To

She awakens on the sofa.  She can’t go into the bedroom or the master bath.  His things are everywhere…right where he left them.  She can’t sleep in their bed…with his things all around.  It’s too much for her addled brain to understand.  So she sleeps on the sofa every night.

She sits up on the sofa in the dim light of the living room.  This morning she has to take one of the chihuahua’s, Jasmine, to the vet.  Jasmine is elderly and is reaching the end of a happy life here on Earth.  Arthritis cripples her hips…she is now unable to walk unassisted.

She wishes for Tom.  He would handle this and of course, she’d go with, but they’d be together to make each other strong.  The stunning realization hits her again that she’s alone.  She’s the only adult in the house who can handle not only this task, but every single other task that comes up.  Broken toilet…she has to figure it out, flat tire…thank God that two people showed up to help, washer won’t work…yep, she did that too.  She lowers her face to her hands. Overwhelmed with the weight of her life.  Overwhelmed with the sudden changes.  Overwhelmed with a grief that can’t be explained…it can only be experienced.  She wonders again “why?”.  There’s never an answer.  Sometimes she thinks she’s losing her mind.  She texts his phone, hoping that somehow he still gets her messages.

She dresses and walks the dogs.  It’s time.  Jasmine is laying in her bed, her milky white eyes gaze up at her with trust.  She pets Jasmine and tells her she’s a good girl and then wraps her in a blanket to keep her warm.  She places Jasmine on the passenger seat and gets behind the wheel of the truck that was his.  All of his things are still in the truck too…including his hair brush that holds strands of his silver and grey hair.

She drives across town to the veterinarian’s office where they are waiting for her to arrive.  They are given a room immediately.  She begins to cry.  Why does she have to do this alone?   Why does she have to do this at all.  She realizes how whiney she sounds, but her emotions are such that she can’t stop pleading for answers.  Answers that never come.

The vet comes into the room with an assistant.  Jasmine is laying on the examination table.  It’s silver and slippery.  She doesn’t try to stand when the vet comes in.   The doctor explains what’s going to happen while she weeps…not only for Jasmine, but for Tom and for herself.  The assistant tries to reassure her.

A fine silver needle is inserted into Jasmine’s leg vein.  Jazzy doesn’t flinch.  She pets Jasmine and kisses her and tells where what a good dog she is.  The doctor and the assistant join her in reassuring Jasmine as she falls asleep.  The doctor places his stethoscope on her chest and says “She’s gone”.   She collapses in a puddle of tears.  She pets Jasmine a last time and tells her to be with Tom and to find him.  She tells her she’s a good girl and then the assistant wraps Jasmine in another blanket and carries her respectfully from the room.  She’s chosen a city cremation, meaning she won’t receive Jazz’s ashes back.  She gathers her things and walks out of the office with tears streaming down her face and slightly sobbing as she walks through the waiting room.

Everything hits her at once…Tom…now Jasmine.  She sobs uncontrollably in her truck until a stranger taps on the window.  She opens the window and the lady who tapped says, “Oh my God…I love my dog so much, and I’m SO, SO sorry.  Could I give you a hug!?  She gets out of the truck for a hug from a total stranger.  She needs hugs so badly, just to reassure her that the world isn’t ending and there are still good things and people out there who need her.

Getting back in the truck, she tries to pull herself together.  She has to go home now.  She drives emotionless to the other side of town.

She just needs him.

The Ones Who Wait

He’s laying on his back in the grass, chewing idly at the end of a stem between his fingers. He flicks it away and the chickens come running…just in case it’s something fabulous. He raises up on one elbow and pulls himself into a sitting position, he gets his legs under him and pushes himself off the ground and stands.

The chickens scatter at the sudden movement.

He’s feeling better because she’s doing a little better. She’s handling things and hiring people and working and keeping herself afloat. He watches her every. single. day. She even laughs sometimes…and sometimes, she forgets for just a second and then it all comes rushing back. He wishes she hadn’t had to see it…the part where he died. He thinks she would have done better had she not seen him like that…seen them working on him like they were. That hasn’t been good for her. She tries to get to the happy memories, but the night that he died gets in the way. It makes her feel like she’s choking on the very air she breathes. There’s no way to take away that memory now.


He thinks. It wasn’t his finest moment, but he is glad that she was there the moment his body set him free. If only she could have known that it was such freedom…and it didn’t mean he was leaving, it just meant that he wouldn’t be tortured by his human body anymore. He doesn’t miss that pain…but he does miss her. He can hardly stand it some times.

He watches her now. She’s gotten more chickens and a new coop. He laughs to himself that he’s barely gone 9 weeks and she’s chickening up the place. As if in response to his thoughts, Oprah Wingfrey, her favorite hen, rustles by in the grass on her way to something interesting by the brook. He watches Oprah go on her way and thinks to himself “at least it wasn’t goats”.

He stretches and begins to walk back to his chair. The chickens know the routine and follow The Chicken Keeper. The sounds of his strides through the grass mesh with the sound of their clucks and warbling. He adjusts his chair and settles back to watch the Light. He’ll wait. He hates it, but he’ll wait as long as he has to for her. To be together again will be so worth it. There are others in the meadow too. All sitting in their chairs…and waiting. Because it’s going to be so worth it.


She showers and washes and dries her hair.   She knows that family will be here soon.  Slipping on black slacks and a black and ivory long tunic,  she shuffles into her shoes and then goes to the living room, where she sits down to wait.

The kids come over from the apartment behind the house.  She greets them and sits down to wait.  Others arrive, family and friends and still she waits.

The waiting is endless.

She knows who she’s waiting for.  She believes this is all a dream.   She believes that if she texts him…he might text her back and she sends multiple pleading, begging, desperate texts to his phone number.  She suddenly remembers that he had left her a message on voice mail…she hasn’t listened to it.   She pulls it up on her phone and stares at it a moment and then impulsively touches her finger to the “play” symbol…

“Hi! It’s me!  Just calling to say “hi!”.  I’ll talk to you later.  Love you. Bye.”

The last message he left for her.  She weeps uncontrollably.

The time drags.  Minutes like hours, hours like days.  It’s finally time to go to the memorial.  She doesn’t remember going there or walking through the door.  She assists with set up…a dozen red roses,  an electric guitar, a 12 string acoustic guitar and then places his ashes on a pedestal between them.  She hangs his “Thompson Theatrical”  hat on the 12 string, The lights in the theatre are dimmed and a spot light illuminates the display and a small speaking podium with a microphone.  She stares until someone finally comes up to talk to her.

The “visiting hours” before the memorial service are a blur to her.  Hugs from friends, sweet words and offers of help, she can’t process any of it.  She feels like she should DO something…offer drinks or food or to mingle to make sure that everyone is doing okay.  Everyone tells her “no…this is for you “.  She can’t stand still and eventually begins to mingle among the mourners, trying to be sure that she’s talked to everyone.

The service begins.  She’s in the front row but she couldn’t tell you who sat near her.  The tribute video begins and she and her daughter dissolve into sniffling, sobbing messes.  Someone has their arm around her.  She doesn’t know who.  She tries to focus, she tries to engage…but she can’t.  She looks at the ashes in their box on the stage.  She can’t understand anything that’s happening.  She is shattered.  Her mind no longer functions.

The service is over.  Friends and family hug her and take their leave of the service.  It’s snowing heavily.  They gather their things and she rides home with Tom’s brother and a friend of Tom’s.   They chat on the way home and she tries to contribute but she can’t understand the words coming out of her mouth.

Finally at home, friends are family are at hotels.  She is alone with her son and his girlfriend who live in the apartment above the carriage house.   She puts on her pajamas and gets her pillows from the bed.  She lays down on the sofa…to wait…to wait for sleep, to wait for him.  Greg and Brianne settle in to watch some TV with her…they wait until she falls asleep and then creep out of the house to their apartment.  She awakens later to call for them, then realizing that she’s alone, the grief floods her again.  She paces the house and then finally lays down again, hoping sleep will come, that someone will come to stop the feeling of waiting….and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Surely, this must be a mistake.  Certainly, he’ll come through the door any moment and say that he’s fine and there was all a big mistake at the hospital or, she’ll wake up from a coma to find that none of this really happened and that she’d been in a terrible accident, but Tom was healthy and fine.

Surely, that’s what happened, and she closes her eyes to wait until sleep pulls her down into the dark.


Things She Should Have Known

She imagines the golden meadow with the scratching chickens. The Chicken Keeper is leaning forward in his chair with his chin in his hands, just watching her. He can always see her. He always knows what’s going on. Today wasn’t one of her better days.

He tosses more grain to the flock and they scurry through the grass looking for seeds and mealworms with their tails high in the air.

He sighs. Shakes his head and sits up. So much he should have taught her. He’s frankly a little astounded she didn’t know how to fix a flat tire because she could use power tools and build a decent set flat. He watches her…scurrying about, frantic, then angry and then victorious! He just wished she’d calm down a little bit because she’s wearing herself out. He’d like to help more…like sending Chance and Paige, the good people who stopped her on the road today when that tire got too hot…but the rules in this new place don’t exactly work that way. It turns out that humans learn by their struggles…not because someone is always getting them out of trouble.


He watches her from the meadow so far away as she frantically writes at her laptop. He wishes he could soothe her. He wishes he could say all the things he used to say to her that he knew would always get her to relax. She can do this…she just doesn’t know it yet. The things that feel like karmic slaps to her are just part of life, and a lot of it that she never learned, and needs to. He smiles as he remembers how he loved to calm her when she was overwhelmed…


And somewhere else, so very far away, she finds herself smiling too.


Greg and I cried in a waiting room while waiting for the nurses to get Tom “cleaned up”.  We couldn’t seem to get ourselves together.  We were there, alone, crying for what seemed like an eternity.  Greg made phone calls to family, in between trying to comfort me.  He’s only twenty-three and held me while I sobbed and asked “why?” over and over and over again. He had no answers for me.  He couldn’t understand either. His grief was as deep as my own. We waited.  We cried.  We questioned.  We sat there stunned.   I finally couldn’t wait any longer and I said I was going to Tom’s room.

I walked around the corner to his room.  It was about 5:00 am…maybe later…and the nurse’s aides were just finishing up and leaving the room.  The nurse stopped me in the hall and told me that I could go in, but I ran to get Greg first.

We walked the short distance from the waiting room to Tom’s room together.  I paused at the door and went in with the nurse following us.

Tom lay in bed covered by neatly arranged blankets up to his chest.  His legs had been straightened out.  His eyes were closed.  The light from behind the bed, dimly lit the room.  His face was mottled and an unnatural color. The breathing tube had been removed from his throat.  I stopped short of the bed,

“What did you DO to him??” I said to the nurse.

She tried to explain about changes after death and I stopped her.  I’m an RN.  I know about the changes after death.  I moved closer to Tom and touched his face.

He was cold.  He was gone.

I began to weep harder and said “No…he’s gone now….he’s gone…I can’t see him this way”, and I started to back away from the bed.  I didn’t want to stay there anymore…at the scene of his death…where they had worked so hard to try to revive him.  Greg asked the nurse what happened.  She told us that Tom had called around midnight saying that he was having chest pain.  She gave him a dose of morphine. Hours later he simply stopped breathing…and they called a code.  Tom had sleep apnea and wore a CPAP mask to sleep at night.  It kept his airway open and kept him breathing.   The hospital had not ordered one and everyone with medical background knows that morphine can knock out the drive to breathe.  I didn’t ask her any questions.  None of her answers would have mattered. The man that I loved wildly was gone.

We decided to leave.  I needed to return home to Bri and Emma and Tom’s mother who were all waiting for us at home.  Greg had called Bri and she was sitting with Emma and Ida, who were confused and afraid.

The nurse handed us Tom’s personal belongings.  The bag of clothes that I had so carefully folded and put into a belongings bag on the day we came into the Emergency Room and his knee brace.  I took the bag into my arms and Greg offered to carry something.  I said I’d carry it and we walked to the elevator.

The security people who had let us in through the front doors of the hospital were still there.  We walked with our heads up and tears streaming down our faces.  They expressed their condolences.  I nodded and Greg thanked them and we walked to the car.  It was cold and we weren’t wearing jackets.  I hugged the bag of clothes and the knee brace swung slightly in my hand as we walked.

Our world as we knew it had just ended and somewhere in a place I could not reach, my husband’s new existence was just beginning.





A Place in the Light


In a meadow, somewhere that can’t be reached, The Chicken Keeper rises from his chair. He calls the flock and they run to him, anxious for treats and affection. They’re all there. Out of habit, he counts them to be sure, but there’s nothing that can happen to them here.

Here in the golden lit meadow, they’re safe.
He tosses them some treats and squints in the direction of the sun that never sets. No one needs to sleep anymore…that was something that he needed as a human being, but in the spirit world, the sun shines all the time. The wind is cool over the meadow and the grasses sway in the breeze, the blades constantly whispering together.
He knows she’s dying for him. He often sits with his hands to his forehead and his eyes buried in his hands. If only he could help her, but they’re worlds apart. Something neither of them thought would ever happen. They thought they’d be together forever and now a veil separates them and although he can see her, he can’t make himself present in her world, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

His new world is good. It’s full of everything he could ever need and he’s surrounded by love and people every day. He wished for her sake, that she knew that he was okay, but she worries…she cries…she aches for him. He aches for her as well and for a time, he didn’t want to stay in the new world. He didn’t understand, he felt caught and couldn’t settle, but time and those who are with him have taught him the beauty and grace of this new place. He basks in it. He feels good every day, something that was denied to him previously, but he aches for her too.

She can’t understand the unfairness of what has happened and wishes she could join him, but earthly responsibilities keep her from going to her Love. He knows this. He knows everything about her struggle. He knows that she weeps on his pillow every night, he knows she can’t sleep in their bed, he knows she hasn’t touched any of his things. He knows she can’t.

He raises his hand in greeting to another friend in this world and the chickens stir in alarm at his feet. He soothes them with a few words and they resume pecking at the scratch he threw down for them. She loved every one of these chickens that passed from her world and he cares for them in next. It’s all he can do for her. It’s all he can do to keep loving her from this far away place because he can’t touch her, he can’t soothe her torture, he can’t reassure her that she’ll be okay, he can’t stop the constancy of her tears and sorrow. Even now, as he sees her from afar, she is awash in her tears…begging the Universe to send him back to her, willing to give up anything to snuggle her face into the curve of his neck to feel him and to absorb his scent.

The chickens have finished the scratch and wander away a short distance from him to peck and scratch in the fertile ground around him. He sits back in his chair where he will wait for her and try to figure out what he can do from such a far away place.
Meanwhile, she lowers her head to her keyboard and weeps for him.

4:02 AM

I awoke with a start. Blinking a few times, I tried to remember where I was and it dawned on me. In Tom’s hospital room. I was sleeping on the sofa while he snored in the bed. It was 2:00 pm.

I sat up and watched him sleeping.   He was recovering from another heart attack and blocked stent in his heart. Thankfully, the blockage had been removed. He spent a couple of days in the ICU and then was transferred to a regular room, which was where we were today.

I gathered my things together…my laptop and briefcase and purse and walked silently over to the bed where my husband slept. I kissed him on the forehead to wake him up.   I told him there was no point in both of us sleeping at the hospital and I was going to go home to check on the kids. The doctor had been in earlier and had released Tom to go home in the morning. I was tired, he was tired…we were just TIRED. He sleepily said that he’d call later and I gave him a kiss and I left. I was to return at 9 am to pick him up.

When I arrived home, my son Greg and his fiancé Brianne were holding down the fort. They had picked up my daughter, Emma from school and were preparing to make dinner. I slid into my usual spot at the breakfast bar and opened my lap top to do some writing…but the tiredness overtook me and I ended up just sitting and chatting with the kids.

We had dinner together and around 7 pm, the phone rang but I missed the call. It was Tom…his message went to my voicemail, but I knew it was him, so I didn’t check the voicemail and just called him back. We chatted briefly and I told him how excited I was that he was coming home tomorrow. He was excited too. He was still feeling weak, but ready to be home. Shortly after I talked to him, I fell asleep on the sofa, but at some point moved to the bedroom and sprawled out on my stomach, taking up the extra space since Tom was not home.

The phone rang. I was instantly awake and on my hands and knees, grabbing for my phone that rang incessantly on my nightstand. Oh God. I knew the number.

“Is this Mrs Thompson?”

“Yes…what’s wrong”

“We need you to come to the hospital immediately. Your husband stopped breathing and they’re working on him.”

“OH MY GOD. Is he okay?”

“Mrs. Thompson we need you to come right now. Get here as fast as you can.”

I hung up the phone and called Greg. He and Brianne lived in the apartment above our carriage house. Greg answered the phone groggily…

“You have to get me to Deaconess, something is wrong with Tom, they told me he stopped breathing and I have to get there right now!” I struggled into my pants and a shirt while I tried to explain to Greg that we needed to leave. I hung up the phone and met Greg at his car and we raced through the empty streets of Evansville to get to the hospital. It was 3:47 am.

Greg dropped me at the hospital doors and I ran into the lobby where I found people who were waiting for me to help me get to Tom’s room.   The elevator took years to get the second floor. When the doors opened, I raced around the corner to my husband’s room and stopped dead…the hall was filled with people.   They had called a Code Blue.

I ran the rest of the way to the room where a nurse stopped me but it was too late. I’d seen him.

Tom was laying flat on the bed. A small nurse was frantically doing chest compressions. His body shook and convulsed with the pressure of her compressions. He was barely clothed. There was a tube down his throat and a respiratory therapist delivered air to his lungs with a bag. Tom’s eyes were slightly open. The doctor at the end of the bed asked for a rhythm…there was none. He ordered another dose of epinephrine. The nurse that was pushing the drugs said to the doctor that it was the last dose they could do and…

….and I stopped listening and took a step backward in the hallway. I watched them work on my husband and they never tried to hide how they were pounding on his body…one of his legs hung off the side of the bed.

Greg came running down the hallway and asked if Tom was all right and then he too was confronted with the code scene. My senses were shutting down. I whispered “Oh my God they’re coding him, Greg.”

The doctor called “Where’s the wife, is the wife here?”

A nurse grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the room. The doctor asked if I was Tom’s wife…I nodded numbly…they were still doing compressions, still bagging his lungs. I kept whispering “no.no.no.no.no” The doctor was talking but I couldn’t understand him…he seemed far away in tunnel and then I woke up on floor.

They dragged me out of the room on chair.   As I reached the hallway I heard the doctor say “Time of Death: 4:02”.

I lost it. Right there in the hallway of the hospital where other patients were trying to rest, I screamed and cried at the death of my husband. One by one the nurses and doctor filed out. One of them, another doctor, said they did all they could but they never got a heart rhythm back. He said he was sorry. He turned and left.

Greg was holding me as I wept when the nurse invited us to go into the room.

The room was now dimly lit by the over bed light. Tom lay in bed, his body askew and he had been hastily covered with a sheet and blanket. His clear, hazel eyes were slightly opened and his pupils appeared normal. I waited for him to blink. He didn’t. His face was perfectly smooth, even the worried line that would appear on his forehead between his eyebrows was relaxed. His lips were perfect. I kissed him. He was still warm. I held his hand and cried and told him that he promised me that he wouldn’t die. He PROMISED. I stroked his hair back from his face that was still pink and warm. I whispered to him. All the things that I wanted him to know. I told him I loved him over and over again while Greg wept behind me. Greg asked the nurse for a chaplain. She went to call him.

I stayed with Tom. Holding his hand, begging him to come back, begging him not to go. The chaplain came and said some brief words that made no sense to me. I finally asked him to leave. Greg and I were alone with Tom. I was lost, crushed, devastated and shattered. I lowered my face to Tom’s cheek and wept.

The nurse came in again and told us that they were going to get him “cleaned up” and that we could return later. I was still holding his warm hand…but it had stiffened in my grip. I carefully removed my fingers from his grip and straightened his hand next to him on the bed.   Then, I wept while I carefully removed his wedding band and transferred it to my finger. The nurse burst into tears.  Clinging to my son, they escorted us from the room.