This is Pam. When Pam was 14 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Doctors didn’t expect her to live, but she beat the odds. They told her she’d never be able to have children, yet, she gave birth to a wonderful son, John.
I’ve known her for more than 30 years. I met her future husband, Wayne, only about a month after he moved to Omaha. Here she is, about a year later, dancing with him the night they got married.
I was Pam and Wayne’s Best Man. As I said on my Facebook page, Pam would emphasize I was Best Man for BOTH of them, not just for Wayne. She was adamant about that. I knew Pam before Wayne. They are wonderful people. Wayne cared for his wife with a love I rarely ever see, anywhere. He’s an amazing man. I mean, if you don’t know him personally, then you have no idea.
I recently posted on Wayne’s page, “You never cease to amaze me. Your strength and dedication should be studied and copied by all of humanity. Be strong, my friend. I believe in everything about you.”
I’m serious and quite sincere. If the majority of humanity was half as kind and dedicated as Wayne was to his amazing wife, this would be a far, far better world.
I was with Pam the other day, but she never opened her eyes. I just stayed and held her hand for a long while.
The day before, when she would still occasionally wake and talk, I had been sitting with her for maybe 30 minutes, kissing her hand and her forehead and gently talking about this and that when she snapped out of a deep sleep with a gasp.
She looked at me with more clarity than she had the entire day. People had been streaming in and out of the room all day.
“Why are all these people here?” She asked. “Am I dying?”
Her face scrunched up and she started to cry. I raised her hand to my mouth and kissed it, frantically searching for the right thing to say. I kissed her on the cheek and was able to answer her honestly:
“I came straight up here. Wayne is downstairs. The nurse was here earlier, but I haven’t asked Wayne what she told him. I’m just here because I heard you were weak and could use company and because we all love you so much. I just want to be here with you.”
That was all truth. I did leave out one piece of information, though. Wayne had mentioned she might not make it to the end of the week.
“I can go downstairs and talk to Wayne if you’d like.”
She nodded her head and stopped crying. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I’d be back.
What Wayne told me was she might not last two days. “The nurse said, maybe three.”
Luckily, by the time I eventually went back upstairs, she was asleep, again. I never had to answer her question. I never had to lie to her. I sat back down and held her hand for a long while.
Pam and Wayne’s son, John, is getting married this weekend. Pam wanted more than anything to make it to his wedding. She came so, so close.
I was able to have a good talk with John, the other day, before Pam died. I have so little good advice to give, so I mainly offered him love and support. It’s going to be hard to leave Omaha for his honeymoon after such a brutal week. He’s a good man. I have faith in him, and I just hope he can find some peace while he’s gone and bonding with his new wife. It could be a very spiritual and healing week, if he is able to let it be, but there’s no way around it – it’s going to be unimaginably challenging and exhausting. What better place to find peace than on a beach near the ocean, though? I wish the best for them. I hope it is healing for him.
I also got the chance to talk alone with Wayne the day before she died. He said, “I’m going to be a lonely old man.”
I offered him as much love and support as I could. I tried to give him comfort without advice, but it’s so hard.
He said, “We are both going to be widowers. You know better than anyone I know. Mostly I know widows, since the men always seem to die first.”
Wayne is incredibly strong. He feels an obligation to be strong for Pam’s family and for his son, but it’s also just who he is. He’s impressively well composed, thoughtful, compassionate and considerate. He always has been.
Pam and Wayne were two of the first people I saw the day Beth died. They immediately drove to my parents’ house while I was there. Only hours had passed since they took Beth’s body away from me. Pam and Wayne both said such wonderful and comforting things to me and I will always cherish that. We reminisced about when Beth and I visited Pam and Wayne while on our honeymoon and Wayne was stationed in The Netherlands. It was great to share that with them.
But, as long as I’ve known Pam, naturally I only knew her an infinitesimal period of time compared to Wayne. He was with her every day for the past 31 years. And these past five years, when she was so sick and even came close to death (about 18 months ago) he was there for her like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to witness.
We should all be so lucky at the end of our lives as Pam was to have Wayne there for her at the end of hers.
May you have that kind of love in your life.
May we all.