Mabel stopped just outside his room, where she was sure she would be blocked from his view by the door. She took three deep breaths, making sure she was calm. She pulled to mind the images of who Silas used to be. The strong man she’d met fresh out of college, who stood tall and strong and used to carry their kids around on his shoulders. She held that imagine in her mind, determined to see only that when she finally stepped into the hospital room. She pulled the smile onto her face, and headed in.
“Hello Love,” She grinned, leaning over to kiss his gaunt cheek. “Stephanie sent you some flowers, aren’t they lovely?”
“Hello, Angel,” He countered, reaching out to take the bouquet from her. “They are quite lovely. But I think it just goes to show that our kids believe that whatever you like is what I like too.” He brought the flowers to his nose and took a small sniff. “Yellow Roses. Your favorite,” he teased, pulling one rose free of the others and handing it to his wife.
She took the rose with a smile, before setting to work. Every morning when she got to the hospital, she set to making his room right. It was another part of the coping mechanisms, her doctor had told her when she started to fear that she was developing OCD tendencies, control over Silas’s environment helped her deal with the fact that she had no control over his illness. The doctors told her it was okay to do as long as it didn’t get too out of control.
She threw open the curtains to let all the natural light into the room. She collected and threw out all the pieces of trash and food wrappers from Silas’s breakfast. She took the wilting flowers their eldest son had sent last week out of the vase on the desk, before putting Stephanie’s flowers into some clean water. She tucked in the blankets around his feet, and made sure that his water glass was full. After doing all of that, she sat down in the chair next to Silas’ bed, turned on the TV to the Food network, and pulled out the cross-stitching project she was working on that week.
Silas propped himself up a little, leaning over to kiss the top of her head as she stitched. “I love you, something awful, you know that, right?”
Mabel turned to look up at him, and for once she didn’t have to imagine what Silas once looked like. Looking in his eyes, it was like he was that man she first met who dared to go toe to toe with her on movie trivia and won. His love for her hadn’t gotten any smaller since that day. No matter what.
She genuinely smiled, and it felt like it had been ages since she’d done that. She put down her sewing and took his hands. “Yeah. Don’t worry. I know that.”
“C’mere,” he smiled, scooting to the side of the bed. She laughed, and climbed up next to him. He wrapped his arms around her, and that was when she could feel the biggest difference, exactly how much weight this disease had taken off him. But it still felt good to have his arms wrapped around her, as few and far between as those instances were nowadays. She closed her eyes and listened to him laugh at the TV, and tried very hard to believe they were going to get through this.