We spent a week on the road, traveling southeast to Missouri, Kentucky, and Indiana and visiting several nieces, nephews, and friends. Marv drove all 2000 miles. I came home worn out, while Marv still had his usual energy.

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Looking back a week later, I remember all the warm conversations and laughter. But I also think of the losses of my nieces and nephews’ parents, our siblings. I could feel our siblings’ presence as I sat with their children. I wanted to tell them how well their children turned out. I wanted to tell them how respectfully they listened to our cancer story. I wanted to tell them the stories we heard about their grandchildren.

I don’t think our siblings’ children could appreciate the poignancy of our time together. To hear an inherited chuckle, to catch a familiar mannerism, to see a physical resemblance felt like rare fleeting gifts.

No doubt I’m more conscious of death and loss of loved ones right now. Even though Marv still has no symptoms, we are vigilant each day for something to happen, and we were no sooner home than our hospice nurse and social worker came over. So, even if we try to live as normally as possible, there is this shadow that hovers.

Marv and I have spent more time together these past few months than ever before. We’ve never been a joined-at-the-hip couple. We’ve always respected our separate lives and interests, while meeting up in the evenings. So, we agree now that it’s time for a break. We’ve said all the things we’ve wanted to say. I’ve learned about all I can absorb about caring for our home and finances. Even on this last trip, my driver/tutor explained several spreadsheets of information to me. He has a unique-to-him manner of filling out spreadsheets—some information reads top to bottom, while other information reads left to right. So, it’s up to me, the student, to try to follow his train of thought. My pencil is busy drawing lines and arrows, so I can document connections that he sees, and I don’t. And, after being sequestered this weekend in the worst April snowstorm in South Dakota since the mid-nineties, we are more than ready for some separation.

So, next week I will spend five days in Chicago with friends. Our daughter will be “on call” for her dad. But her dad wants no help! He’s fine, thank you. And, he’s busy in the garage making wooden lockers with slide-out bins and doors with handles for our grandchildren.

Don’t bother him. He’ll be enjoying his peace and quiet.

Lemonade on the patio, anyone?