My dad (left) with his older brother, Uncle Dennis, who passed away this week.

It was spring and we’d just finished dinner.

We were living in Blyth, a small theater town and Mum still sick with brain cancer. Uncle Dennis and Aunt Marion were over, and they’d excused themselves to go for a walk around our yard with our triangular garden and the apple tree, and when I looked next, out the kitchen window, they were lying in the grass beside each other, holding hands, beneath the sky.

Mum’s better now and Uncle Dennis is gone. He left us Monday night, left us surrounded by his dad and Marion and his son and daughter. He died of Lymphoma, and it would seem the whole world is reeling from cancer, and Marion was getting up seven to eight times a night to care for him–her farmer husband, the second of my grandpa’s boys, the man she lay beside in the grass those years ago.

And I’ve been close enough to death to see her face and this is what death has taught me about love:

1. She has taught me that it is the stuff of angels.

2. She has taught me that we cannot love each other too much, that we cannot spend enough hours in the grass holding each other.

3. She has taught me that my petty arguments and concerns are nothing when I think about my husband passing.

4. She has taught me that I should be kissing him much more, and criticizing him much less.

5. She has taught me that the vows I spoke beneath the trellis 10 years ago, were lifelines in the trenches of the sleepless hours, that they hold eternal power.

6. She has taught me I should do less dishes and more dancing.

7. She has has taught me that no hug or laugh is long enough.

8. She has taught me that there is no greater act of love than in those final hours–some of which last for weeks, years–the bending and serving in the quiet, unseen dark.

I forget. I forget how quick this life, and Uncle Dennis will be buried this Friday, but even now he is alive with my grandmother in heaven, and I like to picture her making her son biscuits, smothered with strawberry jam.

And death has taught me this: too many of my days are spent too far from those I love, and I want to hold them more, sing to them more, bake them more biscuits and play more games. I want to feel their heartbeats and to spend more time just sitting and hold each other’s hands because one day the night will come.

So keep your lovers close, friends. Don’t stop telling them what they mean to you. Don’t forget that you were once head over heels for this man who brought you flowers , and beg Time to stand still for one more walk. One more prayer. One more hello. One more laugh.

Until death do us part.

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