I remember so clearly the day Leroy realized his cancer had spread to the point of no return.
He thought about how he would or could say good-bye to family and friends.
Contemplating a final good-bye is a daunting task.
There were so many wonderful people who had stayed by his side during his illness. These were pals who would come to sit by his bed and just be with him. If he was sleeping, that was OK. There was no need for conversation. This was a man who had bonds that went far beyond conversation. These visitors had shared life and death experiences with Leroy in places around the world where actions spoke louder than words, so their presence was the perfect seal.
It was a bond.
I watched these silent good-bye’s take place in this house and they were heart breaking.
In another house, three thousand miles away, this past weekend, I found myself in a similar situation.
Cancer has returned to spread it’s grip on a very old, dear friend of mine and I went to say “good-bye.” Seeing him thin and pale and no longer talking about living was so sad for me. This man was always the most vibrant, talkative, energy-filled force in the room. His prostate cancer has spread to his bones so it hurts to move. The cancer has found a home in vital organs too. My friend knows his life is winding down.
So there we were talking about old times. There’s nothing wrong with his mind, so the details of covering Super Bowls and World Series and all sorts of sports events were fresh, just like they happened yesterday instead of 25 years ago. We laughed until it came time for me to leave.
It was time to say “good-bye.”
A hug and a kiss on the cheek just didn’t seem right. It wasn’t enough of a “good-bye” after sharing in some one’s life for so many years.
How brave he was to say “good-bye.” I couldn’t do that. I could only hang-on for one more hug.