A dear friend died this week, she was far too young. My life paused in recognition.
Spending time with her at the end was a privilege. To be a part of her life in such a sacred place. It wasn’t momentous. I painted her nails, I helped with papers, I moved furniture. We talked of ordinary things.
What she struggled with most was the unfairness of it all. Unable to bear it any longer, I finally burst out with, “You’re right! You’re absolutely right. Nothing about this is fair.” And she seemed relieved that someone had finally just named it for her. She wasn’t wrong. Nothing about death is fair or meant or OK.
Over the past couple of years we had had conversations on and off about faith. What it means to believe. How faith is embodied in a person. How to have it does not mean understanding. Does not mean you get to draw the map, get to vote about things beyond your control.
Of course not having faith does not mean those things either.
One of the differences with faith is that it does give you this life’s destination. That this life is just the way to that, and not the end in itself.
I saw her last on Easter day. Great timing. I told her that she was going to get to go to the real celebration. The Real Deal.
She could hear, but she couldn’t respond.
I expected the call within an hour or two but, ever the fighter, she fought on for three more days while I lived in an anteroom of my week until I heard.
She hovered in the imbetween. No longer fully here, not yet there.
My every thought was sequestered in that waiting. With her. For her. In that hoping that her pain would cease. In that praying for her rest. That she would ‘slip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God’, whom by this time she had come to know.
Waiting made me think about my own existence. How we all live in the imbetween. All of us. Any of us.
How this is not the end. How, no matter what we believe, there is at least one more transformation inevitable for anyone. No one escapes alive.
So how am I going to choose to make the most of the opportunities given to me in this bit?
When I got home, my worried children asked me what had been my last words to her and I smiled to reassure them.
I told them that I bent down, kissed her precious forehead and whispered, “This isn’t goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
And so we shall.
Godspeed, my friend.