Why didn’t anyone tell you?*

833820_handsHe slumped in his chair, dressed in the usual attire of folks I hang out with: hospital gown accessorized by tubes of various colors.  He said he was in pain but not the kind of pain I usually hear about in my rounds.

His body was breaking down but more so his heart.  His sweetheart, beloved wife of many years, had died shortly before this hospitalization and no amount of pain meds could relieve this excruciating ache.

He asked for a chaplain and got me.  I didn’t share his faith tradition but he wasn’t interested in theology that morning, he wanted to ask me a question.

“Why didn’t anyone tell you it would go so fast?” he lamented through his tears.   “We were so young and so in love and our whole lives were ahead of us.”  He stopped a moment while I found him some tissues.  I sensed he had more to say.

“Why didn’t anyone tell you, chaplain?” he began again,  piercing my eyes with his.  He told me how they met, where they traveled, how beautiful she was and that she loved to dance.  His eyes smiled at the memories then the tears flowed again.

“We looked away for a second and it was all over.”

“I miss her so much.”  He slumped back again.  I needed the tissues for my eyes by now.

I lingered a little longer, offered a prayer for comfort and alerted his nurse to look in on him in a little while.

I couldn’t answer his question but I can do the request he wanted, to tell you.

It will go fast, very fast.  My 40 years of marriage feels like 40 months or weeks or even days sometimes.

Don’t look away.  And go home and wrap your arms around the one you love.

You’ve still got today.

Hope for the Best,


* I am celebrating my 40th anniversary (August 18, 1973) all year and will be sharing a few things I have learned along the way on most Mondays.


11 Responses to “Why didn’t anyone tell you?*”

  1. 1 Jane Rubietta May 20, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Okay. I choked up through this and am forwarding it to my people I love who are married to people they love. And then I am going to go hug my husband. My husband of 30 very brief years. Thanks, Tish.

  2. 3 sandyboller May 20, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Beautiful! Thanks for the encouragement to enjoy every day with the one I love! We’ve been married almost 38 wonderful brief years!

  3. 5 Mary Kenyon May 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    I had my love just 32 short years. He has been gone for fourteen months. I still miss him every day. Hang on tight. In an instant your life can change.

  4. 7 Susie May 21, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    They do tell you. You just have to live it to know it.

  5. 9 Mona Manning May 21, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Thank you for sharing this heartfelt experience for you and your patient. He is lucky to have you with him to witness his sorrow. Having lost both parents who were so much in love, I also have been reflecting on how precious life is.

  6. 11 lauralea May 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    40 years or 4 years–his words remind me of how fleeting each day is….thank you for sharing his profound words.

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