Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Certainty

Sometimes we need a jolt to wake us up from our catatonia. Like you are going along and life is just peachy and you have no real big woes and then... you realize it could all go away in an instant. Or that someone you love dearly could leave. And you suddenly sit upright, heart racing, eyes wide, seeing the world, this person, your life in a new way.

Talking about death will do that to a person.

Talking about death with one of your oldest and closest friends will certainly do that to a person.

I have not made my peace with death. I thought a lot about it when I was going through the Hospice training. Since I never actually got to volunteer with them I feel as though the Universe directed me there for my own healing. I let go of a lot of grief about losing my father and fear about the inevitability of death. I can probably think about my own death a lot saner than I can a loved one. When it comes to even remotely envisioning losing a loved one, my heart leaps into my throat and does the cha cha. I. Can't. Take. It. Maybe losing a parent at a young age sets you up for that kind of trigger.

One of my best friends has been experiencing very serious health concerns for months now and they don't know what the fuck is wrong. I knew he wasn't feeling 100% himself but we live far apart and so I was able to fool myself into not worrying in excess believing that all the doctors he was visiting would figure it out and fix it. But doctors don't always know what is wrong. And that is when the frustration can turn to panic. Why haven't you figured it out yet, doctor?! Isn't that your job!? My friend needs relief from the worry and stress.

I am pretty sure I would be like Shirley McLaine in Terms of Endearment if ever there was a time where someone I love desperately was sick in the hospital. "Give her the medication! It's 4pm! Do it NOOOOOOOW!" Yeah, that would be me.

Discussing what kind of funeral my friend wants is morbid but also just real and oddly enough, comforting. To know that someone knows how you want the celebration of your life to go? That isn't something everyone gets to share. Or that you do not want to be resuscitated or hooked up to machines in order to live- these things are important to discuss even if they make you squeamish or sad. No one wants to think that anything like that will happen to them but... it could. And who wants to end up like Terri Schiavo? No one.

It isn't that I don't love my friend or that I am blase about his poor health. Quite the opposite. Whatever he needs from me, he has it. No questions asked. And if what he needs is to talk about his funeral, I will listen. Or if he needs me to fly down and hold him while he sleeps. I am on the next plane. Because life is too short and love is too fleeting and friendship, well, that's what makes life worth living.

"You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again..."

12 comments:

kapgar said...

Everyone needs a friend like you. I mean that.

Mrs. Ca said...

I agree with kapgar - you sound like just the most absolutely fantastic friend. I hope your friend is at least comfortable, and at most receiving the treatment he desires soon.

Bone said...

The last paragraph got me. Very moving. I hope everything is OK with your friend.

Jenny said...

this is why i love you, my friend.

Bob Merrick said...

I'm fairly certain crying is bad for my health.

JustRun said...

You're a perfect friend. Never, never change that.
My best to you both.

Becky said...

Just because it's hard doesn't mean you're any less of a person (I realized that sounded preachy, but I'm sure you know what I meant). It is tough to deal with the reality of losing people, esp. when you have "advance notice" of it. My step-dad was fairly matter-of-fact on how he wanted things to go, and it was so hard for me to listen to and acknowledge.

Dustin said...

My mom sat me down a year ago and we had the "talk" about what she would want if something were to happen to her.

Wake up call indeed.

The last line of your post says it all.

RedNeckGirl said...

I found your post via Bone and I am so glad he recommended reading it.....definitely a wake up call. You and your friend are in my thoughts.

sue said...

You are such a good friend, Siz...

Dorothy said...

You are exactly right, and your friend is so lucky to have you. I recently helped a dear friend of mine to the other side and know what you have said is true.

Carnealian said...

I guess some would say I have a fascination with death. I've lost both my parents and pretty much all my aunts, uncles, etc. People often ask me, how did you handle the loss of you parents? When you're in it, you just do. That's the only way I can describe it. I cannot imagine losing a friend however. I've just not had to do that up to this point, thankfully. I guess the best you can do is what you said, be there for them and love them unconditionally.