Not amid the cold of a chilly November day.
Not within the four walls of this pale room.
His hands, they are warm, and his grip, it is still strong despite the frailty of the rest of his body.
They betray his poor prognosis and leave me hopeful that his strong will and determination will carry him through, leave him steady and standing, walking tall until the end.
they say something different than does the gauntness of his face
the whimpers of his lips
the doctors' reports.
At first I can't find my voice to tell him what I intended
that he is loved
and that he is Loved.
That I appreciate him
and those strong hands that
fought for our country
built a business
bound together a marriage
a marriage that made a family
a family that grew my father
a father who helped grow me.
The words -- when the room empties of family and falls silent and still washes over the bed and his body quiets into a sounder sleep -- they come crashing out of my mouth, loud as they do when I'm talking over the building and echoing voices of my boys.
He responds not in words
but in firm squeezes
his hand to mine
in a language he's been speaking for I suppose his entire life
one I'm just now beginning to understand.