|He watched as she rolled herself over in the bed towards him, as he sat in one of the easy chairs placed next to the bed. Silently watching her sleep while holding his second cup of coffee, which was quickly cooling off and only half drank. Taking a drink of the dark tepid brew, he thought her coffee was always tastier; he had placed too many scoops of the ground beans into the filter again, and had been immediately jolted awake from the caffeine rush of his first swallow.
His thoughts returned to the woman he loved. She was sleeping peacefully and for the moment, silently. He couldn’t see whether her chest was moving or not, and a shiver of fear ran down his spine. Suddenly, he heard that familiar little grunt; he’d teased her about over these many years, yet had grown to love over these many years. There was a sense of dread, which he could feel, starting to develop around him. What and how could he go on if she went first?
Sitting in watch, he took in the ambiance of the room. It had a smell of antiseptic with a hint of the pine scent she loved. “It smells clean.” She would say. The walls were a stark white with a single picture window constructed in a way not to open. He suddenly missed the smell of the crisp chilly morning air, even though the city air held the pollutants of smog and vehicle exhaust.
They had lived here, only a few months now; but it was a nice suite, the children had chosen wisely. It reminded him of a studio apartment. The doors in the room opened to closets and a state-of-the-art bathroom. They had a small kitchenette, minus the range, and they’d both learned how to operate the microwave oven. She really missed her cooking, but the staff had stated it was unsafe for the residents. The staff offered three well-balanced meals in the dinning room. They would bring the meals to their suite, if they hadn’t made an appearance by the appointed time.
Distracted by her movement and another snort, a little louder this time, he rose from his chair, slower than he liked, the bones in his knees aching, and placed his coffee cup in the small sink a few feet away. He returned to the bed.
She awoke as he climbed in beside her. Lying there looking into her eyes, he fell in love with her, just as he’d done every morning since they’d taken their vows.
Running his wrinkly hand through her grayish white hair, he whispered, “Good morning beautiful.”
Her eyes sparkled when she responded, “Happy anniversary dear,” her fingers slightly caressing his unshaven cheek, sending a shiver of excitement to every nerve in his body. “I smell coffee. Have you left me a cup?” She asked.
“Of course, have I ever drunk it all?” He answered with the familiar daily response.
She bantered, “Of course not.” and giggled.
He climbed out of bed and retrieved her walker, helping her out of bed. Today would be special as the family would come to visit, and the staff had planned a celebration in their honor.
None of them understood the real honor came from fifty years of waking up next to her every morning.