Today, I was a witness to a story about love. Not the kind of love shared by young people who are half-filled with lust and hormones. It wasn’t the kind of dewy love that newlyweds feel when they’re enamored with the promise of undivided devotion and a happily ever after.
What I observed today was rare, a diamond perfect in design, in a world where promises are broken as soon as the downing of a gavel.
I observed a man today, a damaged man, guarding his most precious thing. This was the epitome of love.
His steps were clumsy when he entered the room, but his drive remained unfazed. His gaze was locked on the front of the room, where he wanted to be. Under the colorful lights, a steel grey coffin rested.
Half of its lid was propped open; the closed half held a spray of vivid, mix-matched flowers adorned with ribbons which read the words “wife” and “mother.”
He bent down and kissed her painted lips without hesitation as he approached, his fragile frame quivering to stay upright.
His remarks to her were so calm and soothing. These words had undoubtedly been repeated many times before, but this time they were delivered with a sense of finality.
“I know you can’t hear me,” he whispered. “But, I love you.”
And his tears fell.
He had arrived early for a family visitation that wasn’t planned for another hour or so. He wasn’t going to waste these final few hours. She had been by his side for almost 60 years, yet it wasn’t enough. Not even close.
So, he pulled up a chair and they sat.
He sat sidled up to the casket for over an hour, his cane on his right side and his departed wife on his left. He stroked her hands and rubbed her arms. He appeared to be consoling her, but the fact was that he was consoling himself.
The fact that her skin was cold and her body stiff and unyielding didn’t seem to disturb him, nor did the fact that she didn’t reply to the things he said. This could have been a routine scenario from any given evening in their home, strange as it looked. This scene appeared entirely typical, except for the abundance of expensive plants and tiny presents provided by concerned friends.
When family began to trickle in, he was still sitting there, holding her hand, stroking her hair.
“She looks good, doesn’t she?” he asked when his children approached. Everyone agreed. And they cried.
He lingered close by for over five hours, fatigued and drained, until his body begged him to go and his mind begged for a break.
This guy, this loyal man, had exhibited more grace in his sadness than many people do in their joy. I stood there in astonishment, witnessing devotion in action.
I’d never seen a guy so devastated, so robbed of his bliss by death’s scourge. As I stood there watching him, I wondered what he would do the next day and the day after that. The first day was the easiest. She was still laying alongside him today, able to be touched, seen, and loved. What happens tomorrow, when she is buried deep in the earth and he returns to their home?
Story paraphrased from the original Author April Yurcevic Shepperd
For Bobby, and all that he is.
Writer’s Note: At the request of the Bobby Moore and his family, I am sharing this narrative and photograph. This story was never meant to be seen by anyone. It was written solely for my own healing and to digest the very poignant moment I had just experienced.
As I watched Bobby with his wife, I knew I was privileged to share a moment that conveyed volumes of time. As a photojournalist, I know photographs such as this capture verbs.
It is a window into the event; a bearing witness, if you will. The Moore family have hope that publishing this piece will grant healing to others.
About The Author:
April Yurcevic Shepperd is a seasoned print and photojournalist, her passion is capturing a moment in time through photographs or the printed word. She feels that nothing compares to releasing your shutter, knowing that single frame tells the whole story; or writing so vividly, her readers can see through her words. You can follow her on her Facebook photography page.