Friday, August 20, 2010

You Have To Be Present To Win

I spent yesterday afternoon with my friend Greg who is dying. He’s not up and about too much anymore, so we just lay on the bed and chatted. Thanks to the miracle of morphine, he is not in a lot of pain. He is very matter of fact about what is happening. His body is slowly disappearing. He has always been slim, but by his own description, he is now bony. Auschwitz bony, is what he said.

I asked him what he thought would happen next, that is, what would happen after he died. He said he thought he would go to sleep and wake up in a better place. He said he thought it would be cool. He was excited about getting there, but a little anxious about what he still has to get through between now and then.

He seemed at peace with his life, no big regrets. He is staying with his son and daughter-in-law, whom he calls his angel, and their three children, who call him Grandpa. An early divorce led to an estrangement with his son. And yet, many years later, the son moved his family here and a relationship was built anew. Greg marveled that in spite of years of no contact, here he is being cared for in his final days by, and surrounded by, family.

While we were talking, I thought of that contest rule “You have to be present to win.” Greg has been present in his life. He showed up (Our Appointment with Life). At a time in my life when I am caught up in new things and nervous about transitions, spending an afternoon with Greg was a gift. I have so many things to do right now (don’t we all!), and I almost put off going to see him. But a small voice said that waiting was not the right choice.

Thank you, small voice. There is nothing like spending time with a dying friend to remind you about priorities, about living each day like the precious gift that it is, about not wasting time, about showing up, about being present to win. Greg thanked me for stopping by, but it was I who was grateful for the time with him, to laugh, to remember, to ponder, to appreciate our friendship, to rest in the present moment together, this holy instant.

Life is short, and we have but little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this way with us. Oh, be swift to love. Make haste to be kind. –Henri Frederic Amiel

1 comment:

  1. Galen -
    Thanks for sharing this story. It reminded me to slow down and enjoy those around me, despite my "list" of things to do. -- Elizabeth


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