So why, you ask, should I relay now what I couldn't say even in private while Cindy was alive?
Well, I've been thinking, and it seems to me that there must be others out there keeping the same kinds of secrets. Like me, they're not about to pour their hearts out to strangers in a church basement. But I want them to know that, even in their isolation, they are not alone.
The viewing before the funeral was in our home. When it was over, I kissed Cindy good-bye, closed the casket lid and headed wordlessly upstairs. From our bedroom window I watched the young men carry the coffin outside, heard the heavy thunk of the hearse door and listened as the car rolled away, the tires crunching over leaves that had fallen in a freak July windstorm that morning. I thought of Cindy lying on her back forever, and for a moment I worried about how I'd ever be able to rub it for her now. I buried my face in a pillow. And for the first time I could remember, I cried.
As the darkness gathered, I lay there and tried to recall my last good time with Cindy. I didn't have to go far back. During her last night, alone with her in our bedroom, I whispered in her ear, "I love you, Cindy." Her head moved, almost imperceptibly. "I love you," she half whispered, half moaned. In her final conscious act, Cindy had left me with exactly what I needed. In a way, she fixed everything.
Bill Newcott is entertainment and travel editor of AARP The Magazine and host of the Movies for Grownups(R) radio show.
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