This is a story of true of Me and my Mertle. I'm Lillie, and Mert (as I call her) was my lover. She passed last night, right in my arms at the hospital. We're in our early fifties, and we were soul mates since our early thirties. That's a long time loving someone, but well worth it.

We met at a dance in our hometown Savannah ,Georgia. Like many, we moved to the north... Chi-town (Chicago)...both school teachers. People back in the day thought we were just old-maid friends-but (laughing) little did they know. Sure we went out with a couple of fellas, but that was for appearances sake. We spent our quality time baking, watching movies, thinking of ways to further educate our young people, and sending money back home to our families in Savannah.

Man oh man how we made love...not all this raunchy stuff....but whatever floats your boat. We were gentle with each other....respectful of each other, and growing old together. I was more of the feminine type, and Mert loved alot of sports. We stayed pretty much to ourselves, except for this one couple Ann and Pauletta. They were school teachers too, so we all kept a close circle.
My Mert had been sick for a few months. The doctor diagnosed it as Luekemia. Mert was a strong woman....and she kept her spirits up. I on the other hand was terrified. I knew as she.....she might die. So we decided to take on life with full force. We took some money out of the bank, and we headed to the West Coast. Those two weeks on the beach was memorable.

"Hey Lillie.....come watch the sun go down with me girl! I may never get the chance to do this with you again..come on wit your slo self." Mert said. Walking as fast as I could with the boom box, I plopped down beside her. "What's that?" she said.

"This here is a boom box....I had some of the kids in the neighborhood tape a list of songs for me." I said giggling like a child. I pressed the button, and it played Norman Connors..."You Are My Starship."

"Hey bringing old memories back." Mert said with a naughty look.

"Umm Hmm....I know." I said as I leaned in to kiss her. Mert pulled me close to her, and held me tightly. I was a little thrown off by the strength, because she was weak most of the time. Her kissing could stll set me on fire, and at that moment I was on fire. After a few glasses of lemon tea, we headed into the beach house we rented, and made love.

After that trip, we flew back to Chicago, and Ann and Pauletta threw a little get together for us. They had such a georgeous house, and it was well furnished. There were more couples there we knew in passing and it was really a nice event. Mert was in tears of joy, and her tears gave me tears. Everyone was so good to us....and we were thankful for that. That was a good day!

We went back to the doctor, and Mert's condition was stable. I was relieved her condition did not get any worse. Still I could see something was not well with my Mert. She was becoming so withdrawn at times.... little did I know she was in much more pain than I had known. Little did I know the doctor followed her orders not to alarm me.

One day I made breakfast as usual on a Saturday morning. Mert sat at the table with me, and she hardly touched anything. "What's wrong...the food is not good?" I said being truly concerned.

"The food is fine, but I am not hungry." Mert said drinking her juice.

"You got to eat something, cause you haven't been eating like you should." I said pushing the plate towards her.

Catching me off gaurd, she flung the plate to the floor. The plate broke, and food was everywhere. "Stop babying me! I wanna eat, but I just don't have the appetite!" She screamed and got up and went into the bedroom. I was stunned, I was frightened, and much more emotions was going on. The only thing I could do was pick up the plate, sweep the floor, and mop it over. I felt like while I did this, Mert could get herself together.

After cleaning up, I went into the room, and I found Mert on the bed crying still. I rubbed her back, and laid down beside her. "You need to tell me these things darling, so I will know what is going on." I said in a soft whisper.

"I'm scared body is changing....I'm so tired sometimes, not hungry, and then I get dizzy." she said between sniffles.

"Well we will go back to the doctor...we will find a way to get you on track." I said to her, trying to sound reassuring. "If I can get you to face me, I can give you a special kiss to make it better." I said in a joking way. Mert turned toward me, and I kissed her forehead, I kissed her nose, and her lips. I held her till she went to sleep, and I laid there looking at the ceiling- helpless.

As time went on, the doctor would not tell me anything....Mert had seen to that. She was not eating, and she was losing weight. I finally talked her into drinking the Ensure. She liked the vanilla, and the strawberry, so that did some good for nutrition. I would get her up about three days a week and we would go walking. As long as she did some of our routine, I was not losing hope of nothing. We made love once a week, and that was fine for me. There were times, I would go out and cry alone - yet I remained by her Mert.

One day, we were in the grocery store, and Mert collasped. The store manager called the ambulance, and they got there in ten minutes. I checked for a pulse, and it was there. We got to the hospital in another 10 minutes, and they admitted her. I was told by the doctors that her iron was low, and they were going to feed her intraveneously. I called her family, and told them she was stabalized. It was about 45 minutes before they let me go in her room. She was sleeping, and I was by the bedside kissing her hand. As the nurses moved in and out, I noticed the looks. I did not care, because I felt no need to hold my emotions back. By nightfall, I was given blankets so I stayed by her bedside on the couch.

Mert awoke the next morning, and we talked seriously. I told her that I was her lover and friend. I told her to stop shutting me out, and to tell me what is going on. "Lillie, I know your heart is I thought that things would have changed for the better." Mert said. "The white blood cells are moving at a quicker rate now, and it has been taking a toll on my body. I'm gonna get sicker babe, but I'm gonna stay strong."

"So you were gonna let me be unpreprared? That's not right!" I said as tears welled up into my eyes.

"I'm sorry Lil, but I thought too there would be a know we believe in those." She said rubbing my chin. "Tell you what? We have to be strong through this, and you have to be strong after this. I will include you, and we will talk with the doctor together." Mert said with energy and a smile.

"Good, but what am I to expect? I don't wanna lose you...I just don't!" I said to her softly crying.

"Expect the worse - expect death, but you will never lose never dies." Mert said rubbing my head.

Mert was so right after that episode. She became so weak we could not walk anymore. Some days she just slept, and slept. Other days she would be peppy. We sung songs, we watched alot of movies, and cuddled. The week before she turned for the worse, she requested we take a long drive before sunset. It was a beautiful sunset. We came back home and made slow love like never before. It was a memorable time. On this past Monday night she passed out again. I called the ambulance. When got to the hospital the doctors said they would make her comfortable, and to expect the worse. Mert's red blood cells were not able to fight off the white blood cells coming in rapidly.

Well she came through, and we talked about what the doctor said. "Well come on now babe....we need to write this obituary, and get the lawyer in here." she said with all the grace she could muster.

"Mert, I don't want to write the obituary!" I screamed in full panic.

"Well...give me a pen and pad. My eyes are kinda weak, but I'll manange. I said we had to be strong Lillie."

" I'll write just talk." I said to her patting her hand trying to be as strong as she was. I had to....this was the moment she really needed me. We sat there laughing at the stuff she wanted on her obituary. There were accomplishments I had forgotten of my love. We were gonna let the world in on our secret.....I was her companion. She insisted I put it down that way. We called the lawyer to get the papers drawn up, while she was in her right mind. It was an unforgettable moment in time.

By Wednesday, Mert looked very weak. She was not responding too well. She would shake her head yes or no to questions. The doctor said he was making her comfortable as possible, and to call the family. Those calls were the worse for me. I made calls to the school, and other organizations she was affiliated with. I was running back and forth from the hospital to the house...getting little sleep. I did not care, because Mert was in pain, Mert was the one who needed me to be strong.

By Thursday she went into a coma. She was in and out sparatically. I could tell she was fighting it, and I admired her strength. I talked to her, I sung songs to her, I read scriptures.....I was determined to have her hear my voice. Mert stayed in this condition until Saturday. I was even scared to go to the bathroom, or take a shower...afraid she would slip away from me. Everytime I would leave you should have seen me hollering..."Don't sneak out on me Mertle!" I knew she would not go, becasue she did not like me to say Mertle.

Sunday morning, I awoke and she was looking at me....eyes open... very pleasant looking. "Hey are awake!" I said to her happily. Mert barely shook her head yes, but said nothing. "You want to sit up?" I said to her moving to the front of the bed.. She still said nothing. As I put the bed up in a sitting position, I buzzed for the nurse. They came in, and checked her vitals. They left, and shortly the docotor came in. He explained that people come in and out of the comas, and that she was stable. They fed her by intraveneous, so she was getting nutrients. I said to myself thinking she was going to beat this.

As the day went on, she slept, but awoke on and off. By four, she was wide awake. "I....I...I love you." she said in a whisper.

"I love you too Mert." I responded loudly kissing her on the lips.

"What time is it?" she said.

"It's's four in the evening."

"What day is it?" she said.

"It's Sunday, Mert." She said nothing. Her grip was strong on my hand, and I gripped her hand back too.

"I don't wanna leave you, but I am tired." she said to me softly.

"Mert you ain't going nowhere....hush now." I said not wanting to hear her talk that way.

"I'm a different tired......I don't feel no fear....she said trailing off."

"Well good, cause I have it for the both of us." I said laughing. She laughed a little too...that was good...I made her laugh.

We kept a good conversation going, and then it was around 6pm, when she was about to leave
me. "What time is it?"
"It's about 6 is about 6." I said checking my watch.

"The sun is going down, I just wanna see the sun go down." she said. I went to the window, and pulled the blinds up. The sun was setting so beautiful. I walked back to the bed, and took her hand.

"There my love...there is the sun." She looked at the sun, and then to me and smiled. Mert became quiet after this. By 7, I could not get her to respond. Mert had gone unconscious. The doctors said her vitals were dropping, and she would be gone soon.

They left us alone, and I cried. I cried for her, and I cried for my myself. I held her hand, and I kept telling her not to leave me. "Don't leave Mert! Don't you leave me!" Still no answer came from her. I laid my head on her chest, and I heard her heartbeat. I had laid my head there plenty of times, but I could feel the life in her still. I did not want her to leave me sooo sad. She was hanging on, and so I had to hang on too! I composed myself, and became a little stronger.

Through tears, I told her of how much I loved her, talked about our first sexual encounter, talked about how we left the south and came to Chicago, I just talked about our life. I managed to laugh at things, but my body was shaking. With my head still on her chest, I felt a tear drop on my face. When I looked at her, Mert had a big smile on her face, and she rubbed my forehead. I reached up to kiss her, and her lips were so soft. She looked radiant, and I kept my eyes locked with hers with a smile back. Our eyes told so much of what words could not say...we were bonding for the last was really undescribable. She was touching my soul, and the smile we had was so jaws started to hurt. The machine flatlined and my Mert was gone. Her eyes were set to a different place, and peace was on her face.

Oh how I hollered, and I hollered...letting my grief out...cause she had flown away to a see the sunrise forever. I let it all out, because I had done what she wanted. I was strong...until she left.

Family is all around now, and we're waiting for more to come in. Boy will tongues wag, when they read the obituary. I don't really care, cause our love was real, and tender. My life is going to be lonely now, but Mert left memories with me. I will watch the sunset, and think of Mert. She will be there with me smiling in spirit, smiling for our love. We shared a love many never find. We shared last moments, many will never get to do. I am thankful for that...and when it is my turn to go...I hope she will be there.....I know she will be there...greeting me at the see the sunrise.


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