It’s difficult coming to terms with the death of a loved one. Especially when the loved one is dying before you, you can reach out to touch them, but you aren’t sure of if they can even hear you.
A very dear friend of ours has terminal cancer. Hubby and I actually met and became friends with Sir as a result of meeting our friend and her husband. They are very dear, sweet people. Not just friends, but mentors, and it’s not an exaggeration to say they are the glue that holds our social group together.
I take the morning shifts during the week. (They got her moved to a cancer center closer to where I live, and it’s difficult for her family to get there first thing in the morning.) She can eat (we have to feed her) and is in no pain, but she is not verbal and barely responsive at all.
She is a tiny woman who normally fills up a room with her beautiful personality. I can hear her laugh and voice in my head, in my memories, and I hold back my tears and grief as best I can around her family and other friends. Certainly there are people who know her much better than I did, who spent far more time with her than I ever did, but she left an indelible mark on everyone she touched. I know there are just as many others like me, who even though we didn’t spend lots of time with her, felt like she was a huge part of our lives. She is just like that. Never met anyone who had a bad or unkind word to say about her. Sir is very close to her as well and took this weekend’s morning shifts so He could spend some time with her.
There is no “if.” There is only “when.” In some ways, that’s a blessing. People have time to come say goodbye to her, even if she doesn’t say it back. We all assume she can hear and understand every word we say. There are things I wish I’d said to her “before,” when I knew with all certainty she could reply and we could discuss.
In some ways, her husband seems to be handling this better than any of us. He told me, “We always said, ‘I love you.’ I don’t feel like I left anything unsaid to her.”
It’s a good lesson.
I wish I could do more. I hate feeling helpless. We are all rallying around her and her family as best we can. I know that this, too, shall pass, I just wish it didn’t have to hurt so much. Especially since I know the size of the hole her loss will leave in all of our hearts, in proportion to the joy memories of her will give us.