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Cathy and Duncan Gillis: a long loved love. (Submitted by Duncan Gillis)

Madaleine L’Engle wrote a poem titled “To a long loved love.”

We, who have seen the new moon grow old together,
Who have seen winter rime the fields and stones
As though it would claim earth and water forever,
We who have known the touch of flesh and the shape of bones
Know the old moon stretching its shadows across a whitened field
More beautiful than spring with all its spate of blooms;
What passion knowledge of tried flesh still yields,
What joy and comfort these familiar rooms…

What does a Long Loved Love look like?

We don’t see many long loved loves anymore, so “The Doc Project” on CBC Radio caught my attention. Permit me some sentimental space: last year at this time, Beulah Chandler saw Duncan Gillis help his ailing wife on the beach and she had to film it. Emma Smith writes:

“For Duncan and Cathy Gillis, it was just a typical day at the beach. They had no idea they were internet stars in the making.

On August 28, 2017, the husband and wife from Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton, were heading to their car after an afternoon at Government Wharf Beach.

They were unaware that only a few feet away, a woman was so moved by what she saw that she picked up her cellphone and started recording.

The video, which was later posted to Facebook, captured Duncan patiently helping Cathy, who was wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat and clutching an oxygen tank.

While Cathy sat in a folding beach chair, Duncan carried a second chair about 10 steps ahead and set it down in the sand. Then, he walked back, took his wife’s arm and led her slowly to the waiting chair.

Duncan went back to get the other chair, which he then placed a little further down the beach. He repeated this patient leapfrog until Cathy got to where she wanted to go.

When you love somebody, that’s what you do.

Duncan Gillis“When she got sick, it was just the right thing to do,” says Duncan.

Even when Cathy was so sick she needed an oxygen tank, she loved going to the beach.

Cathy had a form of lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. But even as it became increasingly difficult for her to get around, she and Duncan kept going to the beach.

The summer of 2017 was Cathy’s last.

She died at home in March 2018.

Beulah Chandler uploaded the video to Facebook, and before long, it had more than 37,000 views.

She didn’t know the couple, but in the video you can hear her whispering to her daughter to pay attention. “He’s taking care of the love of his life,” she says.

“Here he was slowing down and showing her kindness, like he didn’t have a care in the world, like that was what he was created for, just to help her along,” says Beulah.”

Read the rest of the story by Emma Smith in “How a Cape Breton beach brought two strangers together.


Take Care of the Love of Your Life

The next new moon is September 9; take a moment to look into the lunar-less sky with burning stars and autumn chills, and receive this blessing:

May you see the new moon grow old together, and may you know a long loved love.