I’ve been sleeping with the lights on

’cause the darkness is surrounding you.

– Sam Smith, Life Support

She stole glances at him every few minutes, maybe even more often. His head was resting against the side of the plane, the part that surrounds the little window. He had received an annoyed huff from the young woman behind him when he reclined his seat, but he didn’t hear it. He was too weary. And too lost in his own thoughts.

She was so worried about him. She kept looking over at him to check, make sure he was alright. She knew it was too much, but secretly she was intent on making sure he was still breathing. After 44 years together, she was absolutely certain that she wouldn’t survive without him in her life. They had only spent a few nights apart in all of their life together, just when one of their children needed one of them, that’s all. She had even convinced the nurses to let her stay on a small cot next to his bed while he went through this most recent and final stay in the hospital.

He had decided not to fight anymore. He was going to let it take him. She was devastated, of course. But how could she deny him this final piece of control over his own destiny? How awful to become a slave to your illness. It’s funny, we say “your illness” as if we own it, but really the illness owns us, it takes over our whole lives, leaving little time or space for anything else.

He didn’t want to spend his final moments in a hospital room. He wanted to be with her and she desperately wanted to be with him but dear Gold help her, it was breaking her heart to think of her life without him. How empty is would be, how worthless.

As she glanced at him again, he took a deep breath and slumped down further in his seat. She tensed, holding her breath, waiting and watching him. Suddenly, he squeezed her hand, as if  he sensed her worry. She tightened her grip on his hand as she wiped the tears from her cheeks with her other hand. His eyes were closed but he seemed comfortable. She didn’t bother looking away, she just watched him, her blue eyes wide and red-rimmed, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

His eyes opened to slits – “my darling wife, relax, I’m still here”.

Her eyes flooded over and she leaned into him as he moved to put his arm around her and take her hand in his. Even now, when his world had narrowed to one word, one disease, he still knew that she was hurting too and he was still able to offer her comfort.

From the warm and familiar confines of his arms, she shuddered as she silently wept and tried not to think about the days ahead.


I had planned (on my last plane ride home) to write something inspired by the quote from Sam Smith’s Life Support at the beginning of this post. It is a beautiful, beautiful song and I can’t speak enough about the wonderful music that this man crafts.

While considering what to write, I was drawn to the couple sitting in front of me (yes I was the huffing “young” woman behind them). She was constantly checking on him and she looked worried, and I was pulled to imagine a story for them. I’m sorry it ended up being such a sad story, but I think it still fits with the lyrics. She is kept awake, scared of the darkness of his illness.

I have to admit that my eyes pricked with tears while writing it, I’m such a sucker for a sad story 😉

I’ve written another little snippet story based on Sam’s lyrics here.

x desleyjane

Posted by:desleyjane

photographer, blogger, planner, scientist, dog lover, frequent flyer, daughter, sister, BFF, human

18 replies on “Stolen Glances.

  1. This such a poignant story. I work with people suffering from terminal illnesses. So often the caregiver struggles with the letting go more than the patient. You beautifully captured the tension and emotion in your story. It brought tears to my eye too…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh what a wonderful person you are working with terminal illnesses. It must be so tough but also very special to be with them in their last weeks. Thank you for your kind words X.


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