He sipped her coffee to make sure it wasn’t too hot before setting it next to the toast he’d quartered for her.
She smiled love at him through hazy eyes as he sat beside her.
He helped her hold the cup steady while she raised it to her lips.
“Oh Dean, no one could love me like you do,” she told him in her scratchy voice.
He nodded a little and helped her set the cup down.
She batted her eyes. “And no one could love you like I do. Wanna know a secret? If something ever happened to you, I would never love again.”
He pursed his lips.
“No one could ever fill your shoes, my darling Dean! You’re the only one for me. Ever.”
He acknowledged her sweet smile for a second before helping her hand holding the toast find her mouth. He had his own aches and pains, but seeing her like this hurt more than all of them.
“So don’t you ever leave me. If you ever did, I’d be alone forever.”
“There’d always be people who care for you,” he reassured her, “people who love you dearly.”
“Maybe. But in here,” she tapped her chest with a fragile finger, “I’d be alone. I’d always be alone without my Dean.”
He didn’t bother to remind her anymore. It was no use. He let her failing mind live in its ancient paradise with its long-lost first love.
Their confusing wedding photos were locked away. Pictures of their children were images of Dean’s children to her, but at least they were still her children, when she recognized them.
After 42 years, Brian let himself be memories of Dean, lifting the loneliness from her heart and holding it in his own.
Together they raised the cup to her lips.