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Tonight, while eating a can of cold baked beans over the kitchen sink, I was reminded that this is the holiday season, a time of thanks and feasting, perhaps not always in that order.

I am very grateful for my beans. I eat them cold so my wife, who is bed-ridden in the front room, cannot smell food being prepared and get nauseous again.

She has terminal cancer.

I have unending thanks.

I am thankful for every breath she takes. Some days, and many nights like them, I sit quietly and watch her breath, wondering if there will be another breath. I ask myself if I have the courage to leave her be if it is.

I am thankful for the smiles she gives me when I bring her breakfast; she seems continually amazed that I have mastered the toaster.

I am thankful for how she talks to our pets, as if they really understand what she is saying; deep down, I know they do.

I am thankful for the medications that dampen her pain, and for those that listen to her and prescribe them.

I am thankful for our support network that intuitively knows when we need them close, and when we need distance.

Above all, I am thankful I am here with her, doing the work only I can do. I interpret her silence and the implication in her words.  I read the pain in her face and have confidence in the relief I bring. I know our time is measured, but value the meaning of every minute.

I am with her. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, where I need to be. These are difficult days and wonderful days. I have never been of more value for her, and ultimately, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

And that makes the beans taste pretty good.


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