I stopped by to visit some friends this morning, not for long, just a short visit because I knew they would be busy and tired. Honestly, I have been avoiding it. My friend’s husband is in the last days of his life and now in hospice care and frankly that is not a position that I really wanted to be a part of again so soon. I thought that I was stronger than I am and I’m not. I keep having to remind myself that we are born to die and our time here on earth is short. I was able to go in and say my goodbyes to a great man. I really didn’t want to bother him because frankly, I didn’t want him to waste his energy on me, but save it for his family. I’m glad that I did—I’m glad that I had just one more chance to see his sweet smile one last time.
My visit was short, and I left quickly because I didn’t want to steal any more of their precious time together as family. As I walked briskly to my car I felt my chest tightening and my throat already welling up and I could not open my car fast enough. “We are born to die. We are born to die. We are born to die.” I keep telling myself this as I turn around and drive to the end of the street. I look at my watch suddenly and notice the date, 7/10.
7/10…We are in the middle of July. July…July 2010. Five years. Five years ago almost to the date I was at my childhood home, nursing my own father through his death. HE was in that same bed, with oxygen tubes, weak and tired from morphine, his body slowly shutting down and wasting away to nothing. My father passed away July 16th, 2005 surrounded by his wife and children and here I am, seeing it all again if only for a moment. Seeing him weakens me and makes my heart ache. As I go over the day’s events with my husband who is gently holding my hand, I hope that he never has to go through it, but I know someday he will. I tell him that no matter how long it’s been and how much you eventually distance yourself from the pain, the void will always be there. My mind drifts daily to my father even if it is only for a slight moment, a passing thought, he is there.
Living that month at home with my mom and siblings was the most difficult thing I have ever had to face in my life so far. I try to never remember my father as he was while ill because that’s not who he was as a man, as a person. He was full of life, and humor, and love and was so much more than his illness. So today, I am saddened—saddened for my friends who are losing each other and the forthcoming pain, and saddened that for whatever reason, God wanted me to see it and feel it again. Yet, even as I write this, I know that only through suffering can we experience true joy and that these are the true blessings in our lives. It helps to give our lives purpose and meaning.