A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to a friend in her 80’s. Her nieces arrived after many phone calls and flew my friend to Florida for her final days. My friend was on oxygen, her body growing weaker by the day.
And she laughed.
Jan spoke her mind. I enjoyed her larger-than-life personality, and her ready smile, in our small religious community. We were fondly acquainted, mostly with each other’s smiles and warm gazes, and shared brief hellos many a time.
Last month, we shared a radiant blossom of a goodbye that fully realized the budding promise of our many casual hellos.
Jan had cancer, but we never mentioned it. It wasn’t pertinent.
And we laughed.
Jan told me jokes. Jan taught me how to tell jokes. “Practice telling the joke,” she said. “When it sounds right to you, you’re ready.”
Cooking meals for Jan, talking with her, laughing with her, was far more about living than dying. I relished every moment.
Her eyes sparkled as she ate tiny bites of the egg I carried to her house each morning, fresh from Chestnut (my favorite hen) and scrambled for her.
“No seasonings,” she said. “I like it just the way it is.”
Answering the call to sit with a friend in need sounded right to me, and I was ready. I embraced uncertainty, encountered the realm of the dying, and I liked it.
Hugging my silky-soft Chestnut this morning, I think of Jan. Chestnut sings to me, and I am filled with such aliveness that it bubbles over.
And I laugh.