He knew she wouldn't survive.
My boss tells me that I am the person who knows most about the devastating diagnosis of his beloved wife of sixteen years, and the events that followed.
He had asked to see the result of the biopsy: Avrille had an extremely rare and virulent cancer. His reaction was one of extreme anger that his wife, such a good person and the only woman he truly loved, was victim of the rarest lymphoma in medical literature. In all, only twenty-nine cases had been documented.
Over time my boss's anger turned to the depths of despair. He lost weight and became bent at the shoulders. His eyes became sunken and his complexion turned pale and pasty.
Eventually, when he could bear the despair no longer he found hope - hope for a miracle cure. This gave him inner strength, the fortitude to take on all necessary duties, doing his best to feed Avrille and give her encouragement and peace of mind.
He became dedicated to caring for his wife, so dedicated that he almost obliterated from his mind the inevitable. At work he would call me in to his office to speak about Avrille and all that was happening at home: the day he had to get a supply of oxygen for her, the day he began bed-bathing her, and the day a nurse was hired to look after her because he could no longer cope on his own. He became obsessed with caring for Avrille - it helped him to concentrate on the present rather than on the future.
But in between times he'd sit at his desk and quietly cry.
The end came soon and unexpectedly. I have never seen such a broken man. The shock was almost too much for him to bear.
Several weeks after the death he came back to his office, but couldn't concentrate. He would pick up documents, look at them with unseeing eyes, and put them down again. Letters, schedules and pencils were pushed around his desk as he had cup after cup of coffee. After a couple of hours he'd leave with his briefcase and keys, telling me he had completed his work for the day.
Today, six weeks after Avrille's death, is my boss's birthday - the saddest birthday he has ever had.