I was in the coffee shop on my college campus studying when two older men came in and sat down on the other side of the room. One of the men started talking about his wife, and when he asked the other man about his wife, this is what was said.
“Man… I was 21 when I met her. I saw her from across the room and brother didn’t nobody have to tell me who she was. I said ‘there goes my wife’, and the rest was history.”
“That girl was something else, man. Every single day, I’d go and work for 12 hours and when I came home, she had dinner on the table waiting on me. After the kids were asleep, we were both so tired that we would go straight to bed just so we could hold each other. I was always content knowing that she was right there in my arms. I told her every night that as long as she was there, I was just fine. She was my queen, man. I told her that every day, she was the queen of my whole life. And my queen pushed me all the time to be the man I needed to be.”
“She pushed me to be a better daddy, and you can ask my little girls and they’ll tell ya, we wouldn’t be nowhere near where we are today if she didn’t keep on making us better. Some folks just have a way of doing that, ya know? Some people just make you wanna be a better man.”
“Well, one day, she started getting sick. I didn’t worry too much at first, because everybody gets sick sometimes. But the doctors seemed to think it was something we should worry about. Well brother, they were right. She asked me if I would marry anyone else if she died.”
“She worried about it. She couldn’t imagine me being with another woman. I told her I could never have a second queen. But ya know what? She didn’t believe me! That girl looked me in the eyes and said ‘I know you better than that! You’re the kind of man who needs a woman by his side. You couldn’t be happy alone!’ ”
I looked her straight back in those big brown eyes and I said ‘sugar, I don’t need no woman in my life, I need you. You’re the only one for me.’
“Well, after a year of fighting it, a lot had changed. There wasn’t no more dinner on the table when I came home. Instead, I would work 12 hours a day, and I would come home. I would carry my wife out of bed and bring her to the table. I would cook dinner with her sitting there watching me, and we would just talk like nothing ever changed.”
“Sometimes, we would sit and eat together and smile and just be happy that we could look at each other. On the bad days, I would feed her and she would cry and apologize, but I told her it was what I was there for. She was so sick, man. She was just so sick.”
“She couldn’t hardly do nothing. And she had to take medicine all the time, it was every 4 hours. So once we ate, I’d carry her back to bed and lay her down, and I would crawl in bed beside her and hold her just like I used to, and everything was ok. Just like I said before, it didn’t matter what was going on, as long as I could hold her in my arms. But I could only lay with her for 4 hours at a time, because then I’d have to get up and bring her that medicine.”
“But those 4 hours in between when I got to just be there beside her… man, I wouldn’t have traded that for nothing!”
There was a long silence, a profound peace which none of us eavesdroppers dared disturb with our poorly disguised sniffles.
“But the body can only handle so much, ya know,” the man continued. “It took 2 years of her being sick as a dog before it got the best of her. I saw it coming, and so did she. We both knew she wasn’t coming back from it. But it still felt like it came outta nowhere. I mean… one day she’s there in my arms, and the next day she’s gone.”
“It killed me at first, but it didn’t take too long before I realized that she really was better off. She didn’t have to take no more medicine, she didn’t have to eat no more of my nasty cooking, all she had to worry about making her peace!”
“Ya know what still gets me though? Man, I don’t know what to do about her stuff. I mean… I can’t get rid of it. All her clothes are still in the closet, I got pictures of her everywhere, and her side of the bed is just how she left it. I wanna believe she’s still here. My daughters tell me I should get it out of there and fix the place up, but I spent my life in that house with her. It’s still our home, as far as I’m concerned.”
Silence again overtook the room. None of us had ever heard a man speak with such absolute respect and admiration. It was obvious that he had truly loved and adored that woman, and it wasn’t changing any time soon.
The other old man broke the silence and said, “Bud, that had to be so hard, though. I mean… taking care of her like that and having to do everything for her.”
A smile crept across the old man’s face. His entire face lit up and he said, “Brother, it was my privilege to be able to serve my queen for as long as I did.”
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