My friend is 100.
Last summer, I received a phone call from one of the staff members at her care home. He said it was the end and that I should probably come and see her pretty quick if I wanted to say goodbye. Of course, I rushed to her. She wasn’t really conscious and didn’t seem to know I was there. I sat beside her bed and held her hand. I cried and cried, telling her how much I loved her. I said I would miss her like crazy but if she was ready to go, I understood. I stayed for a long time, not knowing when I’d said enough or cried enough, not knowing if I’d said the right thing. Then I kissed her on the head and left.
When I showed up for my volunteer shift that week, I went by her room, preparing myself for the tell-tale empty bed or worse, someone else in her place. And there she was, sitting up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, greeting me as if nothing had ever been wrong. I burst out laughing. I chastised her for making such a fool of me. “Here I was, blubbering like an idiot, telling you all sorts of deep and meaningful things!”
When I went to visit her last week, these many months later, her speech was off and she wasn’t quite herself. We had our visit, during which she uncharacteristically said, “You do the talking.” Lucky for her, that’s never been a problem for me. When we were done, I sought out the nurse on duty. He told me she was nearing the end and that he thought she was ready to go. I wondered if I should go back to her room and tell her I loved her one more time or say something important. Then I thought, “Oh, I’m not falling for that again!”
This week she was still there but much the same as last week. “You do the talking,” she instructed, and I obliged. I felt very aware that each thing I said to her might be the last so, of course, I tried to make it as funny as I could. I think if one has to go, one should go out laughing, after all.
I did ask her if she felt like she was ready or if this was just another plot to embarrass me. “Who knows?” she answered, and I left it at that. I told her stories about my week; cat rescues and filming and, her favourite, the kids’ shenanigans. I talked about Easter coming up and then said, “Wait a minute. This isn’t all an Easter prank, is it? You’re not planning on dying and then coming back to life this weekend, are you? Off you go and then, boom! Resurrection?”
She continued to stare into nothing for a while and I worried I’d taken things to far. Then her eyes got bright for a minute and she looked directly at me.
“Yeah!” she laughed, lifting her hands into the air. “Surprise!”