This week has been wrapped in the familiar haze of a place I’d hoped to avoid for a few more years. A dear friend of my love’s is losing his father to cancer (I always, always want to capitalize that word) in New York, and tonight we embark on a midnight road trip, Thelma and Louise style to lend our love, keep his apartment warm, and probably stock his freezer.
These painful stories are not my own, but they are so much the same in their telling. Someone strong and vital, a real force in this world, much loved and admired, taken down slowly by wasting illness while his loved ones stand by feeling entirely helpless and exquisitely mortal.
His daughter was married in his hospital room before he was moved home to hospice care. They weren’t sure he would make it, and wanted to act quickly so he could share the moment. Martha Stewart writes about this here. I can’t imagine anything in the world more bittersweet – such important moments happening simultaneously. My heart is aching for people I don’t even know.
Because I do know. I know what the gentle fingers of death feel like when She is near. Not disease. Disease is cruel, and angry, and unfair. Death is the gentle release at the end of it all, and when She is close, I can now feel Her and remember Her, like an ancient Mother, folding us gently into Her darkness. The hardest part is witnessing our loved ones, and ourselves opening our arms to this visitor that we’ve been taught to fear since childhood – whispering her name to the winds to speed her imminent arrival along.
I’m packing for tonight’s long drive to the Big Apple. I’m making lists, and crossing things off, all while sitting my best friend’s nine-month-old boy Dashiell. He’s incredibly sweet in his disposition, like he knows my heart needs to be reminded of the overwhelming beauty of life. He is hope, and possibility and happiness in a solid man-baby chunk of dazzling smiles and delighted chortles. He naps eats and entertains like clockwork, and he is the most precious reminder of why we must all use every day like a precious gift before the Lady comes knocking. My own girls are far away,warming the heart and soul of their visiting grandmother and I am aching for them right now. I take comfort in the knowledge that they are probably inspiring the same feelings of gratitude in her huge heart right now.
The road trip flies by, the hours seem like minutes with my beautiful company and the comforting warmth of deep, fueling love at the other end. We are all for each other in this world we have carved out, and if one of us hurts, we all hurt.
New York City is the dazzling, outrageous boyfriend I left behind so long ago, and it fills me with joy to see him again. I stroll through the streets, delighted by everything I see, open and drinking it all in. I’m savoring every moment for those who no longer taste this feast