My husband and I recently visited a friend who’s dying. His partner has been keeping a group of us up to date on their situation, and on a Saturday afternoon, we were able to visit them. We weren’t alone; two other friends had flown into Chicago from Dallas and Seattle.
Our friend looks awful (so does his partner), but for a few minutes, the old energy and sense of humor were back. We all had a lovely visit, though brief.
Yes, it was uncomfortable, and yes, it was undeniably sad.
But what a gift it was, too.
The gift was not just that we were able to see him, probably for the last time.
The gift was that we were allowed to see him.
Too often, we don’t get to say goodbye to our friends, and not just because there is a sudden death.
Too often, the friend has cut themselves off, not wanting to be seen; not wanting to see the looks of pity or sadness in the eyes of their visitors. It’s not always the visitors who don’t know what to say; sometimes it’s the person who’s dying.
Too often, the family around our friend – with good intentions – cut off visitors so as not to tire out our friend.
But we were luckier than many people. We had a wonderful time – laughing, flirting, gossiping – that was all too brief.
But we were given a great gift.
And for that, we are grateful.
Dennis is no longer with us, though I’ll always remember his impish, flirty smile. I’m sorry it took until then to tell him I loved him. But at least I got the chance, and didn’t waste it because I felt self-conscious.
Don’t wait until you get the phone call: the one where you’re urged to “come now, right now”. You don’t have to make a big production out of it. Just tell your friends you love them. Yeah, guys too.