A Love Story

“I must love someone.  Otherwise it is a miserable existence.  And that someone is you.” ~Albert Einstein

When I was a student studying to become a nurse I did a rotation on what was called the “Terminal Ward.”  I was working the evening shift and it was about ten o’clock at night.  During the day we had classes and were reviewing Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ work.  She was the first researcher to study dying and came up with the five stages of dying we still recognize today.  Kubler-Ross taught that the dying need to discuss their lives, that they need someone to listen to their unresolved business and their stories.

I was 19 years old and very naive.  As I quietly walked down the dimly lit hallway I saw that most of the patients were sleeping.  When I came to Mr. William B’s room I noticed that his over bed light was on and that he was lying with the head of his bed raised just a little.  He was awake.  I walked into his room and sat in a chair close beside his bed.  We had met a few times and exchanged pleasantries, but I wanted to help and make a difference in people’s lives.  I was there to heal hearts. I was an overzealous idealist.  If there can be such a thing.

In my naivete I sat beside his bed and said, “Do you feel like you had a good life?  Do you have any regrets?”

Not very subtle.  Gosh, how insensitive was I?!!!  But he was old and used to the brashness of youth, so he just gave me a  patronizing smile and then he told me about his Elizabeth.

He grew up in downton Gloucester, a coastal town, and Elizabeth was from a wealthy family in East Gloucester.  Elizabeth’s father forbade their romance.  And so, every day on his lunch break William would swim to Rocky Neck, a point of land across the harbor, and meet Elizabeth in secret.  This is how they spent their first summer together.  Her father eventually relented and they were married.  They were married for 75 years.  The look on his face when he talked about her, the way he loved her was still so present.  She had passed a few years earlier.  When he finished his story I didn’t say a word and neither did he.

A few years later I wrote a poem about that experience and their story that I’d like to share with you.

Elizabeth and Mr. B

I asked him,

Naïve in my youth,

Reckless

in my inexperience,

Have you had a good life?

He was dying,

Late at night on the terminal ward

in its blue fluorescence.

99 years old.

I was a young nurse,

A student,

Courageous with the words of

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Have you had a good life?

Do you have regrets?

He smiled at my impertinence.

He smiled, but my blank eagerness

Won him.

Yes, I’ve had a good life

and then

he told me.

She lived on the point

With her family.

He, he was from downtown proper,

A working boy.

Her father forbade it.

And so everyday

At lunch

He would swim

across the water

to the point

jutting

into the harbor.

Everyday she would wait for him.

And the summer spent.

Her father

Relented.

75 years together.

He and his Elizabeth.

That was his story.

And then he lay still

And his eyes,

His eyes were

Far away, looking out

Across the harbor.

She was waiting.

His Elizabeth.

Sotter_Gloucester-Harbor_web

Love affirmations:

  • I am filled with my story of love.
  • Love supports and encourages.
  • I hold all people in love and respect.
  • I am grateful for the abundance of love in my life.
  • I love now.

Imagine.

If you liked this, you may also like A Brief History of Love.

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4 thoughts on “A Love Story

  1. Pingback: A Brief History of Love. Happy Valentine’s Day. |

  2. Pingback: You’re the one |

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