Losing a loved one is perhaps the hardest experience that many of us will ever face. We all respond in different ways. When Peter DeMarco lost his wife, he decided to write this heartfelt letter.
Having to say goodbye to someone you love dearly is a truly heartbreaking experience. Unfortunately, life isn’t always filled with happy endings and things can often go wrong. It takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to get through such a painful event, with countless emotions like anger, fear and desperation swirling around your mind.
Sometimes though, certain people are able to channel those emotions in a truly inspiration way. People like Peter DeMarco. Not long ago, Peter lost his wife Laura. Laura had endured a very serious asthma attack and was rushed to hospital, but never woke up.
We can’t even imagine the pain and sorrow that must have flooded Peter’s mind. But somehow, he found the strength to pay tribute to his late wife and all of the people who had cared for her. He decided to write a beautiful letter, telling Laura’s story, remembering the good times, and thanking the friends, family and hospital workers who looked after her until the end.
You can read the letter below, but we need to give you a big warning and say that it might just break your heart:
To all of you who love the most lovely person in this world, Laura Levis, who is my wife, my best friend, and my soulmate forever, no matter what universe, dimension, or plane of existence we share, and no matter where we are in time and space in this strange, sometimes painful, but mostly wonderful continuum we call life.
Last night, in the 4th floor ICU of Cambridge Hospital here in Cambridge, MA, where Laura works at Harvard in what was turning into her dream job, something very special happened. Laura needs us more than ever right now, and so, I put out the call to those from every circle of her life: her childhood friends, co-workers, gym buddies, darts team members, Emerson alums, former editors and mentors, neighbors and beyond. Come to the hospital to tell her to keep on fighting, I said. I didn’t know how many would respond. It was not an easy request.
Around 5 p.m., the first arrived. Then more, and more and more. We filled the first waiting room in the ICU. Then, the second waiting room. Then, the staff asked us to form a third line in the main hospital hallway. No one at the hospital had ever seen anything like it, or all that was to happen next.
Laura and I had planned last Friday to get nachos and cider after work – she’s saved up her carbs all week. So I ordered a dozen plates for the waiting room from the place we were supposed to go to, Lone Star Tacos, and friends brought the dry cider she loved for all. Melissa Kaplan, her bridesmaid, played on the guitar, with everyone singing along to “You’ve Got a Friend.” Stephanie Fox, her maid of honor, passed around dozens of photos, and propped up giant collages of others. Meredith Ireland, her matron of honor, and bestie Gill Davidson organized the line, while buddies Michelle Spadaro and Molly Allard handled refreshments. All the while, Mom and Dad, Bill Levis and Georgia Levis, and brother Will Levis, and my parents and my family shared favorite Laura stories and hugs with all.
One by one, you sat with Laura, her hospital room covered with photos of our lives, including our beautiful Bar Harbor wedding two summers ago, as well as favorite dresses, lifting trophies, her trusty backpack, and stuffed animals, of course: Paddy, our little sheep from our first adventure together in Ireland, rested on her chest, along with Paleo, a tuxedo cat kitten who I happened to find in the hospital gift shop.
Holding her hand, you told her how much you loved her, how much you were inspired by her, how beautiful (and sexy as hell) she was, how hip and funny and whip-smart she was, and how much of a fighter she was – the strongest woman any of us have ever met. (She can bench press 125 pounds, btw. Try doing that!) And you made her promises, that, if she held up her end of the bargain, you’d make it worth it for her. Her boss Terry offered to retire and give her her job as head honcho at the Harvard Gazette. Paul offered to let her drive his Duck Boat down Beacon Street, which, considering Laura doesn’t have a driver’s license, was quite the deal. The Cobra Kai darts team promised to re-band. Others offered to take up a Paleo diet, even though they loved pancakes, to fly her to their home in St. John, to teach her how to judge a fine wine, and one of you offered to “steal her any car she wanted” because, well, you could.
I put on the table a new, real Paleo kitten to join our beloved Cola, as well as a trip to Florence, Italy, where, when I was studying there at 21, I told myself I’d one day take the love of my life, whoever that turned out to be. Oh, and I caved to Laura’s demand that I, Peter DeMarco, lifelong Red Sox fan, would turn in my cap for a Yankees one and root with her for her home team. Yes, I did that.
Laura heard and felt every word, that I know, if not with her ears, than in her beautiful soul.
And there were more gifts, of song. Brian Anderson, my childhood friend who now sings for the New York Metropolitan Opera, serenaded us with an Italian song of love, his giant voice filling the ICU with all his might, making it impossible for her not to hear. For an encore, he stepped into the hallway outside our hospital room, and as a few dozen in the waiting line gathered to watch, Brian once again sang Unchained Melody, which he sang at our wedding so incredibly that people cried. Dressed in the very clothes I wore the night I proposed to Laura three years ago, I leaned over her bed, and held both her arms in mine, and we danced once more.
Tom Carroll, our great friend, followed with Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road, Laura’s favorite, song, playing a guitar my groomsman Hayami Arakawa had made. And again Laura and I danced, and I nuzzled her cheek.
It was perfect. It was bliss. It was the greatest pep rally Cambridge Hospital’s ICU has ever seen – maybe the best pep rally, ever. And it was, with our wedding, the greatest outpouring of love that Laura and I have ever experienced in our lives. It was one of the best nights of the 12 years we have shared together, that all began at the Boston Globe –and that one night in the North End, when Laura turned the corner in this stunning green dress, and I knew. I knew.
Laura and I are blessed to have had all of you in our lives. I am blessed to have had her in my life. She will always, always be with me, and part of me. The greatest part of me.
To you, my sweet love, my Baby Lemur. Wait for me.
Pete also wrote an additional message in order to thank two of the wonderful nurses that allowed him and Laura to share one final embrace before the end:
On the final day, as we waited for Laura’s organ donor surgery, all I wanted was to be alone with her. But family and friends kept coming to say their goodbyes, and the clock ticked away. About 4 p.m., finally, everyone had gone, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted, in need of a nap. So I asked her nurses, Donna and Jen, if they could help me set up the recliner, which was so uncomfortable, but all I had, next to Laura again. They had a better idea.
They asked me to leave the room for a moment, and when I returned, they had shifted Laura to the right side of her bed, leaving just enough room for me to crawl in with her one last time. I asked if they could give us one hour without a single interruption, and they nodded, closing the curtains and the doors, and shutting off the lights.
Please SHARE this letter around and don’t forget to cherish each and every day with the people you love!