He ran his calloused hands through the water that dribbled from the silver faucet. The lavender soap stood like a pillar on the sink corner. He blended the flowers with the water and pressed the soap bar against his palm. The scent flowed through the crevices in his palms, burrowed into his fingerprints, and dove deep into his memory. Bringing his hands up to his face, the man absorbed everything about the lavender scent.
It was her.
They once again walked out into the fields behind her father’s workshop in Whales. Again, they kissed and the flower blanket absorbed the frigid winds. Again, she walked down the aisle of St. Catherine’s, the floor coated with the flower. Again, he pulled her close on their 25th anniversary and the lavender perfume leaped from her blouse. Again, he picked her up from the doctor’s office and immediately drove to the nearby lake. He rowed and did not talk as she sat still, with eyes glossed over, focused on the purple embankment. Again, he held her hand in the kitchen, the lavenders watched from the vase on the counter. At once her hand went limp.
“My hands,” she reminded him as she pulled away.
He felt at fault. Her discomfort had become his agony.
The hourly beep of the feeding monitor brought the man back to the present. He went to the living room where she lay in the same spot he had moved her hours before. Her eyes remained directed towards the bird feeder, which he had placed just outside the window. As he knocked on the door the scarlet cardinal fluttered her wings and flew from the feeder. He prayed, like the bird, one day she would again be able to acknowledge his presence through movement.
Kneeling down, he caught her eyes. Her facial muscles, paralyzed from the disease, but he knew the familiar beam. He placed his lavender scented fingers under the tip of her nose. Though she could no longer speak, the tear that fell echoed her understanding. The tear harbored their fidelity.
“Perennial love,” he said.
This short short story is dedicated to all those caring for a family member or loved one suffering from a life-altering illness. May the love you share with this individual form a bond that gives you both strength and peace.