I would have missed the Dance
what others saw
I sit and think about what was many years ago and yet, only yesterday. I think about the lady I waited 24 years for. I remember our first year together. We had that new in love feel and the joy of our first daughter being born. Within 15 months, Sheila was being tested by more doctors than I care to recall. She would go from well to sick and back to well, but each time she got sick, her recovery was slower. A second daughter was born 2 years later. By then, our life had already changed beyond anything I could have imagined. The only constant in our life was the love we shared for one another and our beautiful daughters. Sheila would spend half of our marriage in hospital beds. Our daughters were as comfortable on a fold out chair in a hospital room as they were in their own beds.
Special moments shared and watching Sheila go from wheelchair to walking and back to the wheelchair became simply a way of life for us. Her pain was non-stop and yet she never stopped trying. She was a great mother and a wonderful wife. She displayed more strength than I knew a person could have. Over the years, we learned to live our lives as if there were no disability. We watched our children grow and our love did not waiver. But to watch the woman you loved suffer in pain each and every day can not help but effect you. Cut-downs and IV's and hearing her cry in the night caused me to wonder why such a beautiful lady needed to hurt this way. Tears came until there were no tears left to cry.
So much more to tell and so many more memories to re-live. What I have told you here is just a tiny part of our life together. It is the things I saw and the things we lived that I reflect upon. The real story I am telling right now is what others saw. The side we were too busy trying to keep Sheila alive to see. Nurses saw something that would one day bring to me a peace I could have never imagined. When Sheila would go into the hospital, my parents would watch our girls through the night. I would stay in the hospital room with Sheila so that I could lift her from the bed to the bathroom or where ever she needed to go. I trusted only myself to move her when she could not walk on her own. Of course there were times I could not be there because of my work and our daughters. The times I was there, one of the times being 58 days straight when she was in a coma, even the nurses had become used to me moving her.
It was this action, something that we did without thinking, that would be my peace, if only for a time. We had a way of me lifting and moving her that nurses and other staff noticed. I would slide my arms under hers and then she would wrap her arms around my neck. Her legs were weak but her arms were stronger. She was able to clasp her hands around my neck and then I would stand up. I would walk backwards and slowly turn her until we reached the toilet. I would then lean forward until she was sitting. We would repeat this same action on her return to bed. Sometimes, I would just hold her before lowering her to the bed. It was our moment to hug and hold one another. We thought it was our very own moment.
It was not until after she had gone to heaven that one of the nurses that had watched our life for many years became my nurse for a short stay in the hospital. She introduced a new nurse to me. She told a story of what she and all the other nurses saw when Sheila would be in the hospital. She told of a "dance" Sheila and I shared, every time I lifted her. "We would watch them dance across the floor, like lovers in a ballroom. Her hands were closed behind his neck and he held her right against him. It was the most beautiful scene of love we ever saw. You could see the love in their eyes as they moved across the floor. What a wonderful dance to see."
Through tears that had not flowed in a long time, I listened and I remembered. I could see us moving across the floor. I could feel her arms around my neck and see the love in her eyes. These things had not come to me when we were "dancing" across the hospital room. Life was too busy to stop and notice. Through the words of someone else, all the years we waltzed together came alive inside of me. A peace, an answer as to whether she truly knew how much I loved her, was answered for me. I thanked the nurse for telling me what others saw.
I listen to and sing a song that always takes me back to My Sheila. 24 years of love rushes back to me when I hear it played. There was so much pain and sorrow coupled with the beauty of our love. Many say that most would have walked away. I will not lie to you, there were times that I wanted to go away and never see her cry or wince in pain again. I am glad that I did not do that. I will leave you with some of the words from the song I sing. I think you will understand.
"And now, I'm glad I didn't know, the way it all would end, the way it was gonna go, Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but then I would have had to miss "the dance."