It was Valentines day on Monday and I was reflecting on how love might present itself at the bedside of the dying.
So here are my thoughts…..
Love is in the moisturising of their dry lips.
The wipe of secretions from their mouth.
The tender washing with the softest of cloths of their face and hands.
The gentle brushing of their hair.
Love is in the sponge mouth swabs that ease the dryness.
Love is in the way your hands touch those of your dying loved one – the way you feel their knuckles and the soft bits of skin between the fingers, the caressing from the wrist to the fingertips and the stroking of the palm.
Love is not touching when it cannot be tolerated despite your yearning to feel their skin against yours.
Love is in that gentle hand hold that ushers in a sense of support – I’m here with you.
It’s there when you lay your head next to theirs, close your eyes and just feel their presence.
Love is in your gaze as you look at their changing body yet remember times of vigour and youthful energy.
Love is listening to the rattling in their throat, the groans of discomfort and confused mutterings without walking away.
It is turning towards their suffering and letting them know they are not alone.
Love is in the words that you share.
It’s in the conversations that you have even when there is no reply.
It’s in your singing.
In your humming.
Love is in the reading of their favourite books or poems.
Love is in the music that you play for them.
The music you know they enjoyed when they were full of vitality.
Or the music that you know brings them comfort.
Love is knowing what tv program or film to have on in the background.
Love is knowing when silence is necessary.
Love is in the soft kiss of the lips, cheek, forehead or hand.
It’s there as you linger in that kiss trying so hard to imprint this moment of tenderness into your memory.
It’s in your vulnerability that encompasses these very moments..
Love is in your sighs of grief.
In your gentle sobs of sorrow.
In your sense of relief that any suffering is coming to an end.
In your smiles too as you recall memorable times.
Love is in the shared air that you breathe.
Their final breaths become your first breaths in your ever-changed life.