Today, I sat with a friend who is dying. She has a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disease for which there is no cure and she's declining rapidly.
In our two hours together she sought desperately for words that she struggled to piece together in her mind, hoping they would be recognizable as they stuttered, detached, from her mouth; praying that on that short voyage she'd remember what she had intended to say to begin with. I sat, hanging onto every word, rooted, connected, eye to eye and soul to soul. I caressed her arm and told her I was in no hurry. I am here, I told her. I am here.
We talked about her boys, her caregiver, the stupid therapy that is totally pointless now because she's going to die, and about how many people her dear husband called when they got the prognosis so everyone could come and visit before it got too bad - she was her very own receiving line. She rolled her eyes at that and even laughed a couple of times.
I asked if I could bring some of our friends together, to which she looked away and shook her head. "I know you", she said. She wasn't saying it like, "I know who you are" but I KNOW you know you... and this was our time.
She has invited me into her disappearing; into her fear; and into the emptiness that she keeps grasping into to find whatever is left of herself inside of herself. She is reaching into darkness, into those shallow and deep pools of her brain and is so often coming up empty... words and thoughts slipping through her fingers like sand.
"I'm so scared. It's terrifying, really, and there is nothing I can do. I just didn't think I'd go out like this. I know it is done, so now we wait."
These few sentences took 25 minutes to construct, and the weight of them hit me hard.
I will continue to visit with my friend and hope to offer comfort when I do. I am so very present in the finality of things because she knows, and I know, and we all fucking know - so now, we wait.
In the meantime, do something for me. Answer me this:
Who would you want looking in your eyes as the very essence of you slipped away?
Whose breath would you want to feel on your ear as they kissed your cheek?
Who is it, that when everything feels like sandpaper, they are satin to the touch?
Whose fingers woven into yours assures you that we're in this together, for real?
Whose chest would you melt into because their heartbeat is the only thing that feels alive?
Whose voice will land most softly on your ears?
Who will laugh with you when laughing is the only medicine you can take?
Who do you want cupping your face in their hands and kissing your mouth because this may just be the last kiss in an eternity of forevers?
Who do you want to whisper to you when it's time and okay to let go?
I'll be finding my own answers to these questions. I hope you will too.
Five of my favorite things: 1: beautiful aesthetic – think Italian linen, French laundry tables, three dozen sunset shades of peonies. . . / 2: the smell of my children’s heads / 3: gastronomy – the art of badass food / 4: earl grey tea with milk and honey / 5 : the Mediterranean Sea
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