Her voice, speaking into the horizon in front of them, with her back leaning against the gnarled old oak tree and her hand lying lifeless in his. Her voice, like shattering ice and drifting storms, like the cracking of nuts on the dark forest floor. Her voice said she'd love him, but she could not utter the words. And his eyes, never on the world nor the vast skies of his home, the grand majestic feeling of creation; was it really that simple? She'd tell him of the darkest little forest patches, hidden beneath rocks and leaves, show him the entrance to stone walls, inscribed for thousands of years; and everywhere she moved, she'd find for him the traces of a world older than his memory. Don't go too far down the rabbit hole, my sweet one; he'd hold her with one hand, anxiously wavering at heart.

At night, under the moon, she'd curl up under his hands like a little beast, something wild, her breath ragged. Against the stars, his feathers shone reflectively like a cascade of mirrors, every single one as precise as the passing of time. There would come none to their little place under the oak tree, they were never intruded on. But from far, he could sense the tension of a thousand little critters and animals paying him attention, mesmerized by his presence, but too frightened to touch him. In the depths of their fright lay a minuscule warning, an attentive ever aware memory of the winged ones. The life of the night knew it belonged not near the being of light, thus, they watched with even more fearful fancy at their own kind, sleeping calmly in the angel's arms.

And all she was, was a little monster, a child of the rocks and the trees and the never-ending mountains. Her heart was like that of a tiny stone, all frozen by the winter of her world; and all she had known before he came was a whisper of the song of the earth. She was teeth and fangs and claws; she was razor sharp and blunt at the same time. Where he shone, she shook. Where his wings trailed the ground like silver veins, her hair stormed about like the thorns of wild roses stung. Her hand was little, lithe, and it fit his perfectly.

"Where is your room?" he asks and it's not the first time. More like fifty. I remind him of our home, our sons, the cats. I bring family photos taken by my daughter. "Are you living with her now?" he asks and then I say, "No, I am home and you will be coming home soon, after you get stronger."

In bits and pieces of scattered time, I sign all of the necessary forms, from how he likes his coffee to how he wants to die naturally. When I go there to visit every day, I dress like I'm going to church. His doctor there is a youngish geriatrician, who carefully compared his advance directive to a POLST, which in New Jersey carries more weight, legally.

His two daughters and two sisters have, each in their own way, added to the problem, instead of offering help. Ironically, his sister with schizophrenia just moved into assisted living and has been the most encouraging. They all either directly or indirectly criticize my decision to have Medicare and our secondary insurance help him physically recover, in a safe place.

What my heart is whispering at night is fear and loss, please Lord, help me sleep and wake stronger in the morning. What my heart is whispering at night is gratitude for the grocery clerk who commiserated, the aide who promised to bathe him and did. What my heart is whispering at night is, help me be clear-headed and calm; to take the high road and continue to be present as a strong, loving wife who will stop at nothing to protect her vulnerable husband of 29 years.

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