I received word yesterday that someone I once was very close to - in fact, our lives, for a while, were quite intertwined - is in the hospital very seriously ill. Barring a "miraculous" healing, this certainly seems to be a mortal illness.
This lady was there for me during one of my most difficult times, the death of my older brother in 2005. She was spending the night with me when I received that midnight phone call, rousing us from sleep, that my brother was no more. She stayed with me continuously during the following days and through the funeral itself, comforting me, driving me around, and generally looking out for me as I stumbled somewhat numbly through this period.
We parted ways shortly thereafter, having only occasional communications since. (I'm the sort of person who chooses to remember the good as best as I can and not dwell on the negatives when it comes to the people I have known.) We would get together every now and then and talk on the phone once in a while. Finally we went on with our lives and there was only the very infrequent phone call. Obviously, our connection ran deeply and both of us felt a bond that withstood the typical romantic relationship crash.
This lady was always so full of fun and mischievousness (providing quite a balance to my normal stoic, serious personality), so kind, so adventuresome, so vulnerable in so many ways, yet strong in a quiet sense that allowed her somehow to roll with any hurdle that came up in this race of life. Honestly, I can't imagine the world without her. And even if we only spoke perhaps a few times a year, that bond was palpable, thus my world will be a little emptier should she exit shortly.
It's time like these I wish I had the solace, the confidence of a faith deeply held in a personal God who takes interest in his creatures and who might be persuaded to intervene in the course of things. Just as when my brother died and as with several other closely felt losses, I feel the pull the human heart is vulnerable to in wishing that this life might not be all, that life continues on in some other sphere or on another plane and that the good times of old might be renewed again in some future reunion. Honestly, I don't relish the thought of not existing myself, having become so accustomed as I have to being alive. I hope, but can't say I believe.
Since yesterday afternoon when I got the news I have been lost in reverie of my time with this lady. There are scores of pictures in albums that are put away that suddenly I wouldn't be comfortable looking at. The smiles and the sweet memories would be too painful right now. Maybe later. Much later. There are some of her personal effects packed away in a closet, memories of a time when she spent just about every weekend here with me. When we parted company I don't think either of us thought it was really for good, so neither of us made an effort to make sure these effects were returned.
There are also the daily reminders, a framed poem about the specialness of our friendship that still hangs in my bedroom. Beside my desk here near the west window of my living room - from whence I watch the daily sun set - is a clock she once bought for me. It has artwork on its face of a lute and a guitar, a nod to my love for these instruments. For years it has dutifully ticked away the minutes of our lives. There is so much more but it's kind of starting to hurt "talking" about it this way.
Our last conversation was on the phone a month or so ago. The week before last I received a nice telephone message that I retrieved when I got home from work. She was upbeat, sweet, and teasing as usual. She told me she had had a dream about me that she wanted to share with me. I returned her call but couldn't reach her. I left a friendly message. Now this.
The prospect of losing someone special to you is the dread of losing a part of yourself, of your past, a reminder of the fast ebbing away of your life. When my brother died I told my family that I would miss him every day for the rest of my life. That has certainly been true. I'm at an age where I'm beginning to lose more and more bits of me as those I know and are close to, who were important parts of my life, leave the stage one after another. Of course one day it will be my turn to exit. Until then the play takes on an increasingly darker tone.