It was Thanksgiving Day, Catherine stood in her garage, staring at the SUV parked along side her Jaguar. She hadn't driven it since that fateful day last November, the twentieth to be exact. Catherine remembered.
I had been there three days. Tom was in and out of consciousness.
I drove home for some clean clothes. Sarah stayed with Tom until I returned.
I drove there and back quickly.
The nurse in the foyer met me with words that stunned me. "Mr. Tom has taken a turn for the worse, you need to hurry up."
Running up the stairs, I entered his room. I noticed Tom's breathing had become laborious and gurgly; his color had gone from pale to ashen.
I froze; I cried out. "Please don't leave me Tom, not yet, I need more time."
Then I ran to his side and grabbed hold of him trying to keep him with me. Sarah held me back. "Catherine, talk to him, you know he can still hear you. It's his time."
Sarah brought a chair close to the bed, I sat; holding issues in one hand; the other hand holding Tom's.
I love you Tom. I always will, I'll never ever forget you. You have been strong; you've been my rock. I don't know what I'm going to do without you.
I know you want me to go on; telling me to find love again; maybe someday, but not anytime soon.
His breathing became a struggle; he was gasping for air. I looked at Sarah, who nodded.
It's time Tom, I need to let you go; God will watch over you from now on.
I'm okay; I really am. Don't suffer anymore. Goodbye, I love you. I reached up and gave him a final kiss.
With those words, Tom took his last breath. His hand relaxed and fell from mine. I knew he was gone.
The tears poured down my cheeks. I put my head down on the bed and cried. Sarah whispered. "There's no hurry; Catherine take as much time you need."
Sarah had called the other emergency contact person on Tom's records, Dr. William Mitchell. He and his wife had arrived.
Marina went to her side; her arms embraced her; "We're here for you Catherine."
Struggling to look at her; "Thank you for coming; Marina what am I going to do without him? I want to go to where he is. I don't know if I can go on."
Marina held her close. "I know you feel that way right now; it's perfectly normal. Come sit on the sofa and let the staff attend to Tom."
Marina helped her to get up and sit on the sofa.
Catherine sat; watching as the staff prepared Tom's body.
"It's time, they're here for Tom."
"Catherine, I know this is hard, honey, but they need to take him now." "I know."
I watched as Tom's body was placed on the mortuary stretcher and they wheeled him away and he disappeared out the door.
Suddenly I felt very cold and began to shiver. I got up and climbed into Tom's bed and covered myself; exhausted. I slept.
"Catherine, it's time to go home."
Shaking off her memories, Catherine thought, I know I need to drive it, one of these days I'm going to get stuck in the snow; just not today. She got into the Jaguar and drove to Shelby Manor.
It wasn't snowing; but the clouds were threatening.
By the time she was ready to leave, a full fledged blizzard had begun.
Reluctantly she offered a very distraught gentleman a ride home.
What she feared most as they drove away in the driving blizzard was sliding off the road. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel and focused on the road. It was too late, she skidded; her passenger grabbed the wheel; they landed embedded in a snow bank.
The next day Catherine would write in her journal:
It's the day after Thanksgiving, a very emotional day. I couldn't really feel Tom in his old room at the hospice, I don't know why. I just sat there staring out the window. Suddenly someone opened the door, there stood a man with grief written all over his face, in his hand was a bouquet of tulips. He asked if I had something to put them in; I directed him down to the front desk, turned and stared out the window. He left mumbling something. I felt sorry for him. I composed myself, put on my happy face and went downstairs; there he was again, on the phone trying to get a taxi.
I went out the door, but I couldn't leave, I went back inside and offered him a ride. He agreed, his face lightened, he was going to be able to get home. We crashed into the ditch, we argued and I complained. I had never met a man like him. Well diary, I had to spend the night with him in a cabin that he broke into.
We eventually made peace and then something totally unexpected occurred; he began to touch my heart. His dear wife of many years was dying from heart disease complicated by Alzheimer's; I tried to share with him my pain and grief from Tom's death, there at the hospice last year. By the time we were rescued by his daughter and son in law, I knew he occupied a very special place in my heart.