Death; Grief; Life; Love.
A friend of mine died yesterday. Please keep reading, anyway—this is not a sad post. My friend went for a regular checkup five days ago. She’d been being monitored for a congenital heart condition. The results of her checkup caused her physician to admit her into the hospital immediately for open heart surgery. My friend thought she was fine; had kept her appointment because that’s what she does. Three days ago, she was beginning to recover from the surgery. She sat up in a chair; was told she’d be home by the weekend. My friend belonged to an organization I also belong to, as does her husband. The group had sent flowers to the hospital. I’d written the card myself, telling her we all were looking forward to having her back with us soon. Yesterday, still in the hospital, she was practicing walking around again when she began to feel chest pain. I’d thought, after such extensive surgery, that she wouldn’t experience that particular pain anymore. Wound pain, of course. She’d have to recover from very invasive surgery. The staff tried everything to revive her. She drifted off, anyway. Just like that. The drama come and gone in four short days.
After my tears, my first, irrational thought was “I’m glad she’d gotten the flowers.” What possible difference could that make now, though? Later, I thought it does make a difference. Anne wouldn’t be looking at the flowers anymore; at least not with her physical eyes, but her husband said she’d seen them; appreciated them. And what’s more, HE knew they were there, and from all of us. And, we knew we’d brightened up her room on her last day. That knowledge does help.
My second, perhaps more rational thought was “I am glad I’d arranged that long put-off lunch with Anne a couple of weeks ago!” When we first knew each other, we’d get together for lunch now and then. We each got busy, doing whatever, and talked of having lunch…”soon”. A year passed, and it still would be “soon”! But, somehow, recently, after a few emails exchanged about this and that, we set a date, and kept it! We caught up on a lot of things. I told her how I’d nearly forgotten how much she made me laugh. We agreed to meet at least every other month.
I have the long memory of our friendship, and always will, but I also have our more recent time together to cherish. If we hadn’t managed to schedule that lunch, well, I would have gotten over it, because that’s what I do. But it is of great solace to me that I stopped saying “later” and “soon”. Great Solace.
I have lost friends before. I’ve lost both my parents, and other close relatives. I do not like this! I’m reading posts from blog friends; I’m talking to people in my local life who are experiencing loss right now too. I really do not like this! I must, and I do, honor it, though. Physical life is short and fragile. Without a belief system, this can seem a scary, uncomfortable thing. I do believe consciousness is eternal. I took a moment, yesterday, to meditate and concentrate upon the essence of Anne; to thank her for her friendship. I had a sense of her presence. Many would say this cannot be proven; many would say it’s naught but illusion.
Perhaps so. It really doesn’t matter, though, because, as I search my own heart, I feel at peace with the notion of eternity. I listen to my heart; a very wise organ. It serves me well.