“Do not go gentle into that good night….”
I found out today a friend of mine is dying. Not like we’re all eventually dying , but tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, first alarm’s gone off and now we’re on snooze time dying. Dying within a few months…dying for real. Just the other day, I noted how odd it was that my daughter is 11 and has never been to a funeral. By her age, I was well acquainted with death. It’s as though people don’t die anymore and that’s an odd ridiculous thought I know. Yet my daughter has never known the loss of a friend or family member.
It’s been a long time too for me. We’re all living longer segregated lives where our elderly and infirm are often isolated, removed from polite society, hidden away out of sight and, yes, often out of mind, like Disney’s take over of Times Square. Where did all those homeless go? The cyclical suffering of life doesn’t seem as up close and personal as it did as a child.
My friend is dying. I ask myself, “Now what?” Now that this thing has been named, spoken out loud, the words bitter and hot filling my mouth, scorching my tongue….now what? Do I swallow or do I spit? Shit! Fuck! Damn it to hell!!! I want to scream and hit something!!! And scream again. Today I almost drowned in the river of my sadness. I was sitting at the kitchen counter planning my Sunday afternoon and mentioned that I want my daughter to visit my friend before the pain drugs kicked in, permanently altering him ….and out of nowhere a tsunami-like grief rose up in me, breached my shores and washed me out to sea. I wept in that way children weep- coming in great heaving waves till my ribs ached and my eyes burned swollen shut. On and off all day long and into the night my emotions raged a hostile takeover leaving me dazed and spent and hollowed out resigned. There is a shit storm on the horizon and it’s coming. This is the real deal, the middle-of-freeway- rush hour-pull your car over- push the hazard lights breakdown – and the call box is out of sight. The truth that hijacks the lie.
Somewhere deep down I do not believe I will actually die. It is the brain’s greatest sleight of hand. It says to me here you sit writing this blog…… your child asleep downstairs….. dog snoring at your feet, is the car charging in the garage??? Shit!!!…Oh yes…I’m out of wind screen fluid and tomorrow it may rain…..you really should make the tuna salad tonight instead of rushing in the morning. These are the things I’m happy to worry about. Not death. Not my sweet friend.
I saw my friend today. We sat and talked about work and art and okras, and “next time could you put more lemon in the soup” I brought him. Yes. The answer is Yes. I will absolutely put more lemon in the the next pot of soup I make for him. Lemon and love and the salt of my tears.
Life is aching sweet and oh so short…..just a fleeting moment of Lovely.