Monday, June 25, 2007

Thoughts for someone who is dying

A dear friend is dying.
There I wrote it.
I'm not saying he is sick anymore.
He has been given three months to live.
He is Scottish.
He sings Al Jolson as if he were channelling him.
His hair has never looked like it needed a haircut or a comb run through it.
He is a lifelong smoker.
He gets angry if you ever suggest he quit.
I haven't in about five years.
He hasn't had a drink in twenty two years. He used to have twenty two drinks a day.
He had a son when he was eighteen and he didn't love the mother of the boy so he left Scotland fifty years ago with the woman he did love and subsequently married.
The son connected with him ten years ago and B wanted to establish a relationship with the boy who was the spit of himself and the teenage grandson he never knew he had.
M, his wife, said absolutely no way. If he did, she was gone. He turned his back on his son and grandson. His heart was broken. But he loved M too much.
M couldn't give him a child and that was her heartbreak. She felt very threatened by the mini-me son. She said it wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't the head off B. But he was and she found the torture of this reminder too much to bear. This huge intrusion into their love.
B&M took care of their elderly mothers in their own home until they both died within five years of each other.
M was diagnosed with Parkinson's five years ago and dreaded dying before B.
B was very angry about his diagnosis but now he is more accepting of it. Blood transfusions and mild chemo are giving him some quality of life for these final three months.
I phone him and talk with him and joke with him.
I tell him I'd walk a million miles for one of his smiles.
And I made him one of my special cards and I sent it to him today.
He has always loved my special cards.
But now I say what is honestly and openly in my heart for this man who has done the best he could with what he had.
Like all of us.

The following is the poem I wrote for the card and the picture is one of the edge of my property.


Around the fields, around the shore.
Keeping you out and me in.
Around the heart and around the mind.
So no one can walk inside.
We bring the fences down,
You and I.
A board, a stake, a wire
At a time.
And laugh and cry in the
Wide open spaces of each other’s souls.


  1. Very sad and very moving. How painful it must have been to choose between his son and his wife. But it's good that you've had such a great friendship.

  2. oh my. how beautifully and non-judgmentally and lovingly you have summed up a life. a life that sounds both filled with love and filled with pain.

    i am so sorry your friend is leaving you.

    i am so glad that you can be there for him for now.

  3. Nick:
    Ain't that life though, we have pain and we have decisions and we have love. B chose wisely, I probably wouldn't have.
    I don't judge him and I hope I'm not judged either. He is very lovable and bears this heartbreak stoically. I would like to see his son and he re-united though before the end, I hope M finds it in her heart....


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