About two months ago, I found out that the younger cousin of a close friend had died. This cousin, I will call her A, had been facing quite serious health problems since birth. My friend, whom I'll call B, is years older and is the naturally giving type. So when A had been in and out of hospital, it was B who was at her side. (A was working and living alone.)
Finally A's time was up. She collapsed in B's arms while recuperating from her latest hospital stay. A nightmarish sequence of events followed, what with ambulance delays, bureaucracy and other such ugly facts. At the age of 26, A's story ended.
Through the years I've listened to how B has held her hand, chided her, tried to shepherd her down the path of more rigorous self-care, monitored her, fought with doctors, and advised her. When A died, I heard a real sense of resignation in B's voice. Many years of giving of herself like this will no doubt leave their mark. (B is one of the more empathetic souls I've ever known.)
I was a good listener during my last phone call with B. But in the emotion of the moment, I realized later, I had neglected to say how lucky A had been in the final years to have such a fierce and big heart in her corner. May we all be so lucky.
All this makes me appreciate the little things all the more. So when I find that as a present for a special occasion, J has procured a bag of black licorice shaped exactly like Scottie dogs, I want to weep with joy.
I'm off to write to B.