27 June 2009

Farewell, My Friend

My Friend has died.

The four to six month prognosis turned out to be a mere six weeks.

Friend stayed at home for one month before a decision to move to an 'end-of-life' bed in a tiny Care Home in a small community twenty miles from his residence was made. His room there was as home-like as possible, with windows that were left open at all times, as he requested. His dog was allowed to visit, jumping up on the bed to be close to him. His large community of friends kept a constant vigil by his bedside, day and night. All his medical requests were met, even to ensuring no heroic life-saving measures were applied.

The day he died was a mild and sunny day, typical for the West Coast this time of year. I was around all morning while his last lover spent hours tending to him. When she said her goodbye, I sat with him, holding his hand and telling him that all was well, that it was safe to go. And he did.

To a 'better place'? To be with 'god'? To meet up with others who have 'passed on'? To where 'we'll meet in the sweet by and by'? Was it a 'mystical experience'? A 'spiritual' one? Was it 'an honour' to be present when Friend died? Unanswerable questions, all. It was a great relief to see him come to an end of his physical suffering. It was also overwhelmingly sad, as Friend was only 56 years old.

For me, it brought a sharp awareness of life's short and fragile existence, of the exquisite beauty in nature, of the love given and received from family and friends.

Friend's death is an acute reminder that I, too, have to die.

Farewell, my Friend.

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