I read a news story last week about a couple, ages 90 and 94, who had been married for 72 years. After a serious car accident they were taken to intensive care, put into beds close together, and died within an hour of one another.
"It was really strange, they were holding hands, and Dad stopped breathing, but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going," the couple's son, Dennis Yeager, told KCCI.com. "But we were like, 'he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heartbeat?' The nurse checked and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up."
My brother sent the news story to my mom. I was afraid it would upset her, because if she'd had her choice, she and Dad would've left the planet together. Instead, she is still here, aching, loving him from afar in possibly the most extreme sense of that phrase.
But still, that heartbeat traveling from one to another seems a perfect metaphor for the way my parents love each other. Yes, present tense. I'm convinced that death doesn't stop that, in either direction.
Today would have been their 70th anniversary.