When Olympia DeNittis died last week at the age of 95, her family decided not to tell her husband of 67 years about her passing. The two were being treated in separate care facilities just miles apart, and they hoped that Michael DeNittis, 94, would continue to fight his four-year battle with colon cancer if he believed his wife was still alive.
Instead, his family reports that he dreamed of his own death on the night his wife died, and he quietly slipped away the next day. The couple's granddaughter AnnMarie McDonald said, “It was bizarre ... I think instinctually he knew she had died.”
The two grew up in the same neighborhood and had been childhood sweethearts. They married after World War II and, according to the family, had a great romance and were inspirational to many. McDonald said, “They were both remarkable people. We relied on their guidance and insight until the end. And now they’re together.”
The granddaughter also said that Olympia was dying of a broken heart (although it was pneumonia that finally took her) and that she wanted to get to Heaven first so she could be there to welcome him.
While death is always sad, there is something valiant about living a life with love so deep that you sense a part of you dying when your soul mate passes away. Michael had no way of knowing about Olympia’s death, yet he dreamed that he had died. Not that she had died, but that he himself had.
What a sweet and poignant tribute to love and to a long and fruitful life on Earth. It’s obvious they will be missed here, but I hope their story continues to be an inspiration to many.
Have you known an elderly couple that has passed away days apart?
Image via Marko Rosic/Flickr