Three years ago tonight, Ralf and I shared our last meal in our home together. Spaghetti and meatballs from one of our favorite local Italian joints – Ferrari’s.
I remember it well.
I asked if he would be okay with this dish yet again – because it was a frequent craving throughout my pregnancy – and he agreed. We had it delivered and then we sat next to each other at our kitchen counter, like we so often did. Now when I look back at this moment, I specifically remember resting my head on his shoulder and releasing a sigh of enjoyment as I devoured that first meatball.
“I don’t feel so good,” he said, with a mouth full of pasta.
“What do you feel?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just feel off,” he explained.
“Yeah, you’ve been studying way too hard. You need a break.”
The promotional exam to become a lieutenant was just one week away. We were so close. He would be through with all the studying, his stress level would drop, and I’d have my husband back. We would finally be able to fully enjoy my pregnancy together. The maternity photo shoot was scheduled. He’d be able to join in on the baby shower planning and help me complete the registry – all of which I’d been doing without him because he was so preoccupied with preparing for his test. He would be building baby furniture and we’d be putting our son’s room together.
Just seven more days.
I went to sleep much earlier than he did because, of course, he had to hit the books. Being the extremely light sleeper that I am, I woke up when I felt him climbing into bed hours later.
“Where are you?” he said, as he reached for me to pull me close.
“I love you so much, Maeghan. You really have no idea.”
This was not part of our regular bedtime routine. Sure, he told me he loved me regularly, but this time it was different. His tone of voice was serious, as if he needed to make sure I heard those words that night. It was as if he knew it would be the last night we would share in our bed.
Seven days later, he missed the exam because he was hospitalized awaiting his biopsy.
Eleven days later, he was removed from life support after his tumor unexpectedly ruptured and crushed his brain stem.
Three years later, I love and miss him just the same.