Bob Carter awoke hopeful, but with an unavoidable air of sorrow.
His beloved Mara was gone. The living room was still strewn with the medical trash, the abandoned useless weapons of a desperate battle for life lost. She had suffered a massive coronary, suddenly and without warning the previous night. The ambulance came quickly and the paramedics kept her alive all the way to the hospital, where she had passed away during surgery. Now there was a vast emptiness in the center of his once-happy family and life. One he was determined to face and fill, though how still evaded thought and even concept.
On the nightstand sat an ornate frame next to the alarm, a big center picture of Mara flanked by the two beautiful kids with which she had blessed him. Jim and Sharon would need him now more than ever, and he realized he would likewise need them.
I still have reasons for living, he thought.
He remembered fondly Mara's most prominent attitude: Always there to lovingly help, and decided then and there to make that how he would honor her memory. Not by fixing things for people, but supporting their efforts to fix them. This is my recovery day, he thought. We are going to be made stronger by this, together! Not because we have to, but want to...it's what Mara would have wanted.
Wiping away tears, he began thinking about the children, and the day ahead. Calling in, he found arrangements were already made for bereavement leave, and accepted thankfully. The loss had effected so many outside the family: Mara Carter was almost as cherished by her coworkers at the business they ran together as she was by her family. There were memorial service and funeral arrangements to be made, and so he started across the bedroom to the small writing desk where she had always finished business for the day before retiring. Somewhere in the rolltop was the will and insurance papers, but upon opening the top he saw, very neatly placed, a manilla Hallmark envelope. In the middle of the envelope was his name, in her handwriting.
Bob picked it up to open it, expecting to find pictures or mementos of some kind within.
Instead, was a simple, blank note card, inside which was written:
"By the time you read this, I will have passed away. What to say to my beloved on this beginning of a new chapter in his life is that, though I am gone, my love for you abides. A few words on paper can never replace the wondrous life we have had together, but I know from my brief time with you that you will prevail over grief, and draw triumph from tragedy. In the hardest times, remember our best times. In your darkest hour, be a light to others. Life in the world comes to an end, but true love never does. Be strong and of a good courage, and let that courage turn this day of mourning into a new beginning...your Recovery Day."
With those last words Bob learned he was known as well as he had known, maybe a bit more.