Most people need to hear those “three little words” I love you. Once in a while, they hear them just in time.
I met Connie the day she was admitted to the hospice1 ward, where I worked as a volunteer. Her husband, Bill, stood nervously nearby as she was transferred from the gurney2 to the hospital bed. Although Connie was in the final stages of her fight against cancer, she was alert and cheerful. We got her settled in. I finished marking her name on all the hospital supplies she would be using, then asked if she needed anything. “Oh, yes,” she said, “would you please show me how to use the TV? I enjoy the soaps so much and I don’t want to get behind on what’s happening.” Connie was a romantic. She loved soap operas, romance novels and movies with a good love story. As we became acquainted, she confided how frustrating it was to be married 32 years to a man who often called her “a silly woman.” “Oh, I know Bill loves me,” she said, “but he has never been one to say he loves me, or send cards to me.” She sighed and looked out the window at the trees in the courtyard. “I’d give anything if he’d say ‘I love you,’ but it’s just not in his nature.” Bill visited Connie every day. In the beginning, he sat next to the bed while she watched the soaps. Later, when she began sleeping more, he paced up and down the hallway outside her room. Soon, when she no longer watched television and had fewer waking moments, I began spending more of my volunteer time with Bill. He talked about having worked as a carpenter and how he liked to go fishing. He and Connie had no children, but they’d been enjoying retirement by traveling, until Connie got sick. Bill could not express his feelings about the fact that his wife was dying. One day, over coffee in the cafeteria, I got him on the subject of women and how we need romance in our lives; how we love to get sentimental1 cards and love letters. “Do you tell Connie you love her?” I asked (knowing his answer), and he looked at me as if I was crazy. “I don’t have to,” he said. “She knows I do!” “I’m sure she knows,” I said, reaching over and touching his hands rough, carpenter’s hands that were gripping the cup as if it were the only thing he had to hang onto “but she needs to hear it, Bill. She needs to hear what she has meant to you all these years. Please think about it.” We walked back to Connie’s room. Bill disappeared inside, and I left to visit another patient. Later, I saw Bill sitting by the bed. He was holding Connie’s hand as she slept. The date was February 12. Two days later I walked down the hospice ward at noon. There stood Bill, leaning up against the wall in the hallway, staring at the floor. I already knew from the head nurse that Connie had died at 11 A.M.. When Bill saw me, he allowed himself to come into my arms for a long time. His face was wet with tears and he was trembling. Finally, he leaned back against the wall and took a deep breath. “I have to say something,” he said. “I have to say how good I feel about telling her.” He stopped to blow his nose. “I thought a lot about what you said, and this morning I told her how much I loved her... and loved being married to her. You shoulda2 seen her smile!” I went into the room to say my own goodbye to Connie. There, on the bedside table, was a large Valentine card from Bill. You know, the sentimental kind that says, “To my wonderful wife... I love you.”
大多数人需要听到那“三个小字”——我爱你。有时他们就会在最需要的时候听到。 我在康尼住进收容所病房的那天见到了她。我在那儿当义工。把她从轮床抬上病床时，她的丈夫比尔焦虑不安地站在旁边。虽然康尼处于和癌症搏斗的晚期，但她仍然神智清醒，精神愉快。我们把她安顿好。我在医院提供给她使用的所有用品上标上她的名字，然后问她是否需要什么。 “啊，是的，”她说，“请告诉我怎么用电视好吗？我非常喜欢肥皂剧，想随时跟上进展情况。”康尼是个浪漫的人。她酷爱肥皂剧、浪漫小说和讲述美好爱情故事的电影。随着我们越来越熟，她向我吐露说，跟一个经常叫她“傻女人”的男人生活了32年有多么沮丧。 “唉，我知道比尔爱我，”她说道，“可是他从来不说他爱我，也不给我寄贺卡。”她叹了口气，朝窗外庭院里的树望去。“如果他说声‘我爱你’，我愿意付出一切，可这根本不是他的性格。” 比尔每天都来探望康尼。一开始，康尼看肥皂剧，他就坐在床旁。后来，她睡的时候多了，比尔就在屋外走廊里踱来踱去。不久，康尼不再看电视了，醒的时候也少了，我开始花更多的义工时间和比尔在一起。 他谈到他一直是个木工，他多么喜欢钓鱼。他和康尼没有孩子，但他们四处旅游，享受着退休生活，直到康尼得病。对他妻子病危这一事实，比尔无法表达他的感受。 一天，在自助餐厅喝咖啡时，我设法和比尔谈起女人这个话题，谈到生活中我们多么需要浪漫，多想收到充满柔情蜜意的卡片和情书。 “你跟康尼说你爱她吗？”我明知故问。他瞧着我，就好像我有神经病。 “我没有必要说，”他说道。“她知道我爱她！” “我肯定她知道，”我说。我伸出手，触摸着他那双木工粗糙的手。这双手紧握着杯子，似乎它是他需要依附的惟一东西——“可是她需要听到它，比尔。她需要听到所有这些年来她对你意味什么。请你考虑考虑。” 我们走回康尼的房间。比尔进了屋，我走开去看望另一个病人。后来，我看见比尔坐在床边。康尼入睡了，他握着她的一只手。那天是2月12日。 两天后的中午时分，我顺着收容所病房过道向前走着。比尔站在那里，靠着墙，凝视着地面。护士长已经告诉我，康尼在上午11点故去了。 比尔看见我后，让我拥抱了他许久。他满脸泪水，浑身颤抖。最后，他向后靠在墙上，深深地吸了一口气。 “我有话非说不可，”他说道。“我得说，对她说 出来，感觉真是好极了。”他停下来擤鼻子。“你说 的话我想了很多；今天早上我对她说我多么爱 她……我多么珍惜和她结为夫妻。你真该看看她的笑容！” 我走进康尼的房间，亲自去和她告别 。我看见，床头桌上放着一张比尔给她的大大的情人节贺卡——就是那种充满柔情蜜意的贺卡，上面写着：“给我出色的妻子……我爱你。”