My long-beloved wife Tina, now a few days away from becoming 78, spent a week in the Critical Care Unit of our local hospital. She has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent for 18 years. After prolonged intravenous antibiotic treatment, she came home this week cured but bruised, bloody, unclean, almost wholly unresponsive, worse in many ways --- except for her life-threatening respiratory infection --- from how she had been when we sent her by ambulance to the emergency room on March 22.
We had seen this a few years before: Tina returned to us from the hospital in a virtual vegetative state, immobile, unable to speak, perhaps unable to understand. Several days of “home cooking,” the excellent nursing she receives here, had cleaned her up, normalized her vital signs, and brought an occasional ambiguous indication she might be aware of her surroundings.
Last night before I went to bed, I stopped at her bedside. She seemed awake --- at least her eyes were open --- but it was not clear she knew who I was or where she was.
I leaned over her and kissed her cheek on the side facing away from me. As I did so, my cheek brushed by her lips. Then I felt her mouth move, and she gave me a little kiss, a giant little kiss.
She knew, and she cared.
She knows, and she cares.
P.S. Tina died 4/25/22. This was our last kiss.