Death happens. We all know that. Even when we know it is about to happen (due to a terminal illness or something dire), we know what that means in advance. We are, naturally, somewhat taken aback even more when it actually happens and, of course, we grieve the loss of the loved one for some time after. But, generally speaking, death is part of life and the only real variable is the individual’s manner of departure. We lose someone. We grieve, we accept, we adjust, we cope.
And that is where Sal and I are right now. But we are still in anticipation mode. No one has actually passed yet. One very close to us is scheduled to depart this mortal coil within the week (medically assisted) and the other (equally as close to us) has just had major Cancer surgery at a very late age and the disease is still aggressively at work.
I mention this not to depress you but, rather, to be a bit more clear. Some other dear friends called to ask what the previous blog only hinted at. “What’s going on?” So, I am writing to clear that up.
Cancer is taking two family members.
What I find kinda strange is that those departing are not upset or afraid in the least. They are calm and charming. In fact, when people visit them, the conversation is all about everything else rather than the dark spectre in the room. There is no strained avoidance, tho. One visitor commented on the patient’s calm bravery in the face of it all and the patient responded with a smile and a joke, “It’s the meds!”
Like most of us, I have lost more than a few close friends and family already. Dozens, at least. I suppose it should be a somewhat familiar experience by now but it never is. Different people mean different things and their loss is felt differently, too. It’s all so personal.
And that is likely the way it should be. So, now that I have clarified the topic and become a bit less mysterious, I’ll stop. You now know what this is about and we all already know that it is personal for everyone. One thing is for sure…..just reading this short blog will likely trigger a deep and profound response akin to familiarity for all of you even if it is only for a brief moment.
Death is something we all know about at some level. And someone is being remembered.
I flew to the East coast on New Years eve this year.
My 92 year old uncle was terminal.
We spent a few days together.
His brothers and sisters and wife had predeceased him.
His kids dont really relate to him so I took him on drives and talked for 3 days.
He loved it. He got to smoke, sneak a few beers and curse, swear and B.S. as much politically incorrect rants as he wanted without horrified admonishments from his audience of one.
His last words to me were .
“I dont like Goodbyes! So I’ll see ya later!”
And with that he shut his hospice room door.
He died a week later.
A great uncle with wit, courage and a practical outlook that is sadly lacking in todays world.
I, too, lack the pragmatism, courage and wit of the majority but, as you are younger than me, please feel free to come and drive me around when I am knockin’ at the door. We’ll drive while you smoke and curse. I will drink scotch (your bottle is still here) and crack jokes. Sal will make dinner when we get back. “You boys have fun?”
I wish I knew what to say, Dave, but you have said it well.
You are right about that. Some things just are and no amount of chatter will matter and so I have learned to largely say little-to-nothing to the surviving family members but telling the ones soon to be on their way that they were and are loved and will be very much missed is all that I can come up with. Then I leave.
I know where your blog is coming from, Dave. I lost my wife of 58 years in December. She fought polio and post polio syndrome for 78 of her 86 years.
Sorry to hear that, John. That is a huge loss. Guys don’t bounce back from that as a rule. Not easily, anyway. After 58 years you truly are one. Sal and I are getting up there, too. I would be bereft beyond recovery. Sal says she would be, too, but she’d grieve while on a nice cruise. Apparently we all grieve in our own way, too.
That post-polio syndrome makes for real everyday heroes. Brave. I have a lot of respect…..for both of you. Take care and keep coming back.
As always, you have expressed it well. These must be difficult times for you and Sal. I refer often to your phrase “mortality kicking in” that you once mentioned to me. I have even used this quote of you this weekend. I agree that it is important to let them know that they are loved and will be missed and make their last moments in this life as nice as possible.
We can only hope that we can still share as many years as possible with our loved ones, I now I would be devastated when my wife would die before me.