They hand me his clothes in a bag.
Shoes, too. Wallet and eyeglasses.
The wedding ring's last, and I thread it on my necklace. The golden band symbolizing a love that never ends encircles the silver cross that testifies of my faith.
"I'm not afraid to die," he says, his eyelids struggling against the medication that makes them heavy.
"God's been good to me."
"You're the best wifey ever."
I brush the hair from his forehead. It was brown when I first fell in love with him so many years ago. Time and trials have turned it gray.
The lines at the corners of his eyes testify that for every tear there was an equal opportunity smile. And every smile reached his eyes.
Kind helpers in scrubs join me at his bedside, and their patient presence tell me it's time to say goodbye.
"I love you, sweetie," I say as I lean over to kiss his lips one more time, but gravity and sedatives close his eyes before he can respond.
"I'll see you soon," I whisper. "Be brave."
Today it's only an operation, but someday I may say goodbye for real.
What will my regrets be?
That we fought over silly, selfish nothings?
That we didn't say "I love you" enough?
That we took each other for granted?
That we worked too much and played too little?
That we were were quick to condemn and slow to forgive?
That we played it safe instead of playing it transparent?
That we settled for okay when a little more effort would have made it great?
That we put more energy into our parenting than into our marriage?
That we died on hills not worth fighting over?
"Ma'am? Your husband did great. You can see him now."
Thank you, Lord, for reminders that life is but a vapor while there's still life to be lived.
Lori Hatcher is the author of the blog, Hungry for God; Starving for Time, where she provides twice-weekly doses of spiritual nutrition for busy people. Like a spiritual power bar, Lori's devotions will nourish your soul on the go when you don't have time for a spiritual meal. To subscribe, click here.
She's also the author of a devotional for homeschooling moms entitled Joy in the Journey. To read more about Lori and her book, please visit www.lorihatcher.com.