We were four years old when Paul Simon and his girlfriend started the road trip that would later inspire his song, “America,” and the memorable line that serves as the title to this post.
We met twenty years later and started a journey together that ended when she died today.
I have spent the last few days watching over her as she sleeps. Then, when she is awake, we talk. Sometimes about things we need to do, but mostly about our times together since we first met.
We had been dating for only a few months when she accepted a position with a Baltimore law firm. We got married a year later. Abigail was born a few years after that.
We journeyed through life together, watching school plays, swim meets, and graduations. We spent a lot of time on long walks and especially liked canoeing together.
Sometimes we got lost. Like the time we could not find the exit from an airport parking lot in France, or the time we could not figure out which exit to take to get to my Arlington apartment.
Through it all, Kathy kept us on track and focused on essential things. She was like the red end of the compass needle, always pointing to the right way forward.
Our last days together were hard. The morphine helped with the pain, but it caused her to sleep more and more. When she was awake, we talked, but not about the future. We shared memories instead, like how much fun we had on our recent trip to Lake Placid.
Over the last days, her body slowly wilted away. Towards the end, she used an oxygen compressor to ease her labored breathing. That night, I played soft Irish music on my phone to cover the machine’s hum and pulsing.
I spent some time removing pictures from her work phone and was surprised to find a photo from our wedding many years ago. How young and healthy we were then, unafraid that cancer’s deadly mystery would remain unsolved when we were older.
I treasure our journey together but, like everyone facing the death of a loved one, wish that it had lasted a bit longer.
My faith has never been as strong as Kathy’s, and I am not as confident as she is about what lies ahead. But I am sure that if there is a heaven, Kathy has found her way there.