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           I dial Milt's number at the ICU.
           "Hello sweetheart -- I had a procedure today -- I love you," he says.
           And he hangs up the phone. Our long conversation.
           I dial the phone again.
           Bev, his daughter answers.
           "He hung up the phone," I tell her. "What happened?"
           "They put a lead in for the dialysis," she says.
           I think that's what she said.
           I'm too upset to understand anything tonight.
           "When is he coming out of the ICU?" I ask.
           "Don't know," she replies.
           He's been in the ICU for about a week.
           (I can't keep track of the time).
           Problems with his kidneys, his heart
           And his Parkinson's disease.
           I will fly to North Carolina in seven days.
           Milt wanted me to wait until he's discharged from the hospital.
           "If I'm in the hospital, you can see me for just a few hours a day."
           Sorry, Milt, waiting is not a good idea.
           "I miss you and I want to see you soon," I told him.

           I can't wait to hug him -- but there's not much left to hug.
           My big teddy bear is all skin and bones.
           Yet he still manages to keep calm
           And to be sweet to everyone around him.
           And, God help us, he never forgets
           To tell me he loves me.

           "Please God," I pray
           At least a dozen times a day
           "Don't let him go
               Not yet
           "I love him so."

                       December 27, 2010
                       1 a.m.

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