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Negleted woman gives into temptation with a coworker.
When she said it Emma started to cry. She said, "Don't go. Don't leave me."
Beth said, "Sandy and I will stay with you."
Emma looked at me and said, "Sleep here. Don't go."
I went in and took a nap on the queen bed. Beth stayed until five and then she woke me so I could be with Emma. At six Carolyn and John brought dinner to us. They stayed until eight and went home. Emma and I talked until after eleven. Actually, Emma talked and I listened. She talked about life with Ron.
She started drifting to sleep after eleven. I recommended she go to bed. I told her I would stay right there on the recliner. She went into their bedroom and did her ritual. She came back out wearing a long green plaid flannel nightgown. She stood in front of me for a long time looking at me.
Her hand reached for mine. When she had it she said, "Hold me."
I stood and held her. It was if she was so fragile she might break. She backed up a little and I released her. She took my hands and led me to the queen bed where she sat and began unbuttoning my shirt. I started to say something and she put a finger to my lips. Then she finished unbuttoning my shirt and tossed it to a chair. She undid my belt and unzipped my chinos.
The last woman to do that had been my wife, the night before her heart attack six years before.
I finished the job and stood before her in my boxers. She turned and crawled into bed. She held the covers open for me. We didn't talk. I got in and she molded herself against me. I know we slept but I also know we spent most of the night just holding each other.
In the morning there was a knock at the front door. We didn't hear it. Beth and Sandy came in and found us asleep holding each other. They backed out and came back two hours later. They made breakfast and made enough noise that we woke up and got out of bed. I dressed and Emma went into the bathroom for her morning ritual.
In the kitchen Beth kissed me good-morning and so did Sandy.
"We saw you two sleeping." Sandy said.
"I don't know what to say."
"God, don't feel bad! If someone had been there for me like you're here for Emma I would have come back to the living lots faster than I did."
"All I've done is hold her and listen."
Beth got up and kissed me. "Silly man, you say that like it wasn't much! It is everything. She had counted on you from the day of the birthday party. You promised her you would be here for her."
"Would one of you do me a favor?"
"Go to my place and get me some clean clothes. I don't think leaving Emma would be Ok."
They took my keys and left. While they were gone Emma came out and ate breakfast. "Where are they?"
"Went to get me some clean clothes for today."
"I hope they bring you your clothes, Beth's and Sandy's would be too small for you." She smiled. Her sense of humor was coming back. She ate a good breakfast and we were at the sink doing dishes when Beth and Sandy returned. I thanked them for the clothes and went to take care of a shower, etc.
Emma sat them down and talked to them. She was sad, aware of the hole in her life and that it would hurt for some time... and she was back. They asked about finding me in bed.
"The most comfort I've had in the last three weeks was knowing that Nick would be here for me. He held me all night long on Ron's recliner after Ron went. He didn't make me talk. When I cried, he cried. He helped me cry! Last night we were on the couch falling asleep and he sent me in to get ready for bed. When I came out of the bathroom in my flannel nightie I saw an empty bed. I went to him and he held me. I took his clothes off and I pulled him into bed. He held me all night long. I miss Ron. Nick doesn't breathe like Ron. I got up once in the night and when I got back in bed Nick just gathered me close and held me. He didn't wake up."
When I came out feeling clean and fresh all three women kissed me. Beth's kiss was much more than a quick kiss. I didn't ask what they meant. I just enjoyed receiving.
The next day was the funeral.