The above photo was taken on Christmas Day 2017. My husband Michael looked happy and healthy and we were told by others that they could see our love for one another in the image. I didn't realize it on that day but this photo would soon tell a story of what I call the long goodbye that took 3 years.
The long goodbye begins
In May 2012 my husband and I were visiting relatives and saw a woman named Paula who had lost weight since the last time we had seen her. As she talked to us she was squinting her eyes. Her body movements and facial expression suggested she might be in pain. Later I told my husband that I sensed she was dealing with a debilitating illness and we prayed for her. We later found out she had complications from diabetes.
When we saw her again it was at a wedding in June 2015 and she was on a cane. Her movements were slow and her face was like she was grimacing. One of my cousins had the same mannerisms as he walked on his cane and he died not long after. I told my husband I could sense death was chasing Paula and when the wedding photos were posted on Facebook my spouse said he saw what I did.
In October she passed away 3 years and 5 months from the date I first noticed her condition. I had no idea that this woman's saga would be a warning that the same thing would happen to my husband. What I readily saw in her, however, I did not want to accept in him because I loved him and wanted him to live.
Photos speak volumes
In the above photo, my spouse and I were at Golden Corral on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, just 4 months after the Christmas picture. I noticed a difference in my husband's image and I thought of Paula because he also had diabetes. I kept telling myself there was nothing wrong but I think in my gut I knew he was giving me a long goodbye.
The image below was taken on Easter Sunday, April 29, 2019, I saw the weight loss, and how his glasses looked big on his face. I noticed that he had that look of pain I had seen on others but I kept telling myself it was not what I thought.
Hind sight is 20/20
I had watched my mother deteriorate in 5 weeks and succumb to cancer. I saw my 91-year-old grandmother begin sitting for longer periods on the couch each day and walk more slowly down the hall 2 months before she died but this long goodbye was different. I would randomly look at these 3 pictures and hope against hope I was wrong. I prayed against what my gut, the universe God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were trying to prepare me for.
On July 4, 2020, we went for a walk and he was leaning on me because he was trying to not depend on his cane. We were about 50 feet from our backyard when he stopped to catch his breath. As I held tight onto him I heard deep within me "Walk with him and see what the end will be."
The end came on March 7, 2021, from complications of a stroke and a blood clot. Our oldest son said he could see the decline in his dad in the images and that in the last one, he just looked tired. I realize now the adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" is true. Somewhere out there someone else, perhaps you the reader has been looking at photos of a deceased loved one and concluded (in hindsight) that they too had been experiencing the long goodbye.