(Note: Now that we're back on track, here is the latest entry in the weekly "Spohn Challenge" project...)

Jack Ramsey stirred in his hospital bed, opened his eyes and looked up into the face of the beautiful woman who - even though he knew he hadn't deserved it - had promised to love, honor and cherish nearly six decades before. 

It had been a long journey together, and he understood that for him that journey would soon be over. He understood it, but he didn't much like it. It wasn't the leaving that grieved him, but rather the fact that his true love would have to stay behind...

"Something on your mind, sweetheart?" Lisa asked.

Jack smiled up at his wife. "I was just thinking how lucky I've been all these years, having you by my side."

Lisa reached down and brushed a lock of hair off Jack's forehead. "There's no place I would have rather been," she told him, fighting desperately to keep the sadness from her voice. "You know that."

Her husband nodded slightly. "I know," he said. A moment passed before he spoke again. "You're the one person in the world who's ever understood me."

Lisa smiled again. "Oh, you dear, sweet man," she said softly. "No. I really don't. I never have." She bent down and kissed him on the forehead, then on the cheek, then stood up straight again and took his hand in hers. "But that's never mattered. You are who you are. And who you are is the man that I've always loved. And always will."

Jack lay silently for a bit, then gave her hand a gentle squeeze as that boyish grin she fell in love with so many years before slowly crept across his features. "Well," he said playfully, "I guess that will have to do." 

And then he drifted off to sleep one last time...

(Copyright 2014 by John Allen Small)