You Do Not Need to Be Afraid, Dear Clo, I Am Right Here Beside You Always

Clo is in the hospital. I have no idea for how long. She isn’t eating, drinks little. She is exhausted, very head achy, nauseous. She has a terrible metallic taste in her mouth, pain in liver, legs, knees and shoulders. Generally speaking, totally miserable. I learned about ambulances: hire a private one unless you want to go to the nearest emergency room. We sure didn’t want to do that. We had a bed waiting for us at Princess Margaret Hospital on the 16th Floor and no stops between here and there were going to delay us! It worked wonderfully well to have private ambulance company take care of us.

I am learning about the precious gift of being able to love and support my best friend and partner as she faces with grace the probably end months of her life with me. Clo trusts me. And I am so grateful that she does. I want to give her the gift of knowing she is loved, feeling she is safe, being free of pain, and feeling fearless. I am praying she will die in my arms. I want her to feel my love, my presence, my hope and the safety of my holding her close as she leaves for something I don’t know much about and she will explore sooner than I will.

My experience is that we really don’t know how we want to die until we are in the middle of the journey. It is pretty difficult to talk about death when we are feeling invincible, when our live is young or new and were are too busy living it to think about leaving it. I felt an urgency to talk about dying with Clo as she attempted to live in the midst of knowing she was dying. There were times I felt the hold of what was inevitable while she so lived in the moment that I was often not sure if she acknowledged what lay ahead for her and for us. I wanted us to talk about what we each were feeling. I wanted to hold her if she was afraid. She didn’t share what was going on inside of her with me very much. She needed to keep it for herself fearing?

I sometimes wondered if she wanted to say, “Nancy, I am afraid.” If she did, I would say, “You do not need to be afraid, dear Clo. I am right here always.

Seldom does Clo show fear. Nor does she seem to struggle against death. She appears to live in the moment and I have little information that tells me she is thinking ahead. Sometimes I feel angry that it seems to me I am the one here carrying the reality. Other times I have incredible admiration for her sinking into the current reality without struggle. Does she want to die? I doubt it. I don’t believe she wants to leave me and I know she doesn’t want to leave our grandchildren. I see her as comfortably resigned to something she believes she has no control over. I am able to let go of my fear for myself without Clo at my side, as I look at how peaceful and ready she seems to be. Clo always told me she was not afraid to die. I didn’t believe her. I told her I believed everybody at some level was afraid because it was all based on faith. As I watch her now, I learn to not be afraid. She is at peace and I trust that she knows. I do not think she is afraid.

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