I just paid a visit to an elderly friend and his wife. Long overdue, but just in time as my friend has decided to take the final journey. He has quit his dialysis and is waiting for the end to come. Doctors say it should been within the week. To look at him, he does not look like a dying man. Yes, he was on oxygen. Yes, he was a bit frail appearing. But his eyes were bright. He was alert and still cracking jokes and making witty remarks just as he always had. A salesman to the end. At 94, he was alive as anyone I know. Probably more so. And soon he will be gone.
His dear wife of 41 years has been by his side through this. She has always loved and supported him through everything they have gone through in their lives. Ane he, here. Family triumphs and tragedies, joys and sorrows. Always there for each other and as always, they are taking this trip together, at least as far down the gangway as she is allowed. At the end, he will go on. She will wait to be called. She told him he needs to prepare a small bungalow on a lake in heaven. I small blue boat for fishing. And a place for friends already there to visit and for those who will follow. Parting will not be easy, but I have a feeling the bond between them will not be broken.
It was his decision after months and months of tubes and doctor visits and hospitalizations that it was time. Gracefully. While he was still fully present. He made a list of people he wanted to say good-bye to. She has been calling each. And those that are able have gone by. And will continue I am sure in the little time he has left.
I thought I was going to say a final goodbye. After an hour or so, I felt like I was saying more of bon voyage. I felt bad I had brought no "gift", but there is little to give someone who is not taking any earthly belongings with him. He is taking a piece of each our hearts though, which are light and quite portable. And amazingly, he gave me a gift I will always treasure. He gave me the best example of how to face the final days: directly with no tears. It is merely a transition. His peace became my peace.
At the end of the day, there is nothing greater one can do than to be able to reflect on the good things your life has brought and be at peace with the inevitable. As I left, I hugged him then put my hand of his shoulder. "Have a good trip," I said. "I will," he answered, then adding, " but I won't write. Heavenly postiage is way too expensive."
At the end of the day, what more can one say or do?