This I Believe

Stephen T. - Poway, California
Entered on February 15, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: death, illness, love


I knew Maeve and Jack’s grandmother better than anyone else in the world. During the early part of our marriage, Sharon and I were both young, taking our first steps together on the long journey ahead, and I first came to know her. Later, after raising two kids and growing old together, after so many years had come and gone, I believe I came to know her again, much better than before. At least I tell myself that every time the doubts begin to crowd in on me and flood my head with misgivings.

I knew Sharon well on the day that horrible scourge, cancer, arrived in our lives. From that day on, I knew a monster was growing inside her and would someday rip her from the safety of my arms. I knew about the growing fear we both shared and the great pain that would eventually overwhelm us. I understood Sharon’s dread of time. I knew how much she despaired over the prospect of not seeing Maeve and Jack grow up, and her concerns for me. I knew all of these things and I believe, somehow, knowing Sharon as I did helped lessen her fears, her pain, and most of all, her dread of time. She wasn’t alone.

As the end approached, I knew how soft her hair would feel when I touched it in the morning, and whispered, “I love you.” I knew the fragrance I would smell as I leaned in and kissed her lips. Yes, I’m sure of that. And how her hair swept across her face in a light breeze, or fell softly on her neck when she combed it in the morning sunlight. I believe that Sharon, like many women, considered her hair to be a defining element of her identity as a woman, and when it came time to shave it off she cried. I knew Sharon at that moment and understood why she cried. I guard that knowledge as I would a sacred treasure.

But, I am not without doubt. Did I ever really know such a beautiful lady? Did I make a difference in her life? Questions like that linger in the shadows of my mind. To banish them I must believe—I have always believed—Sharon loved me, and was thankful that I never let go of her hand. I can believe that because I knew my wife.

I came to know Sharon in every sense of the word at the end, as we held-on to each other and tried to prepare for that inevitable final battle. Cancer ended her life, but it could not take her from me. I never let go. I still see her wonderful smile, hear her gentle voice, and on occasion enjoy the fragrance in her hair. Every morning I manage to drag myself out of bed and face the day with one simple belief. I believe I knew my wife, and I loved her.