We walked, at a brisk pace around a neighborhood lake. David's stories began to slip out.
"When you hold a beautiful goblet you have to imagine it broken, destroyed, gone. Hold the two images in your mind as one. The goblet whole, the shattered glass… hold that image in your mind an you are in the moment"
We agreed that pursuing a life as teachers and thinkers would make dying a little easier and that a quick death from say… sudden cardiac arrest would be preferable to dying by inches. David said that while he was in the hospital he thought about his life and could say that it was one of abundance and fulfillment.
“Character and an Open Mind are all you have. You make what you can of life from there... You always want more time but what I’ve had has been very good.”
David left the hospital with a list of changes he wanted to make only to soon discover that it was the ordinary joys and actions of everyday life he really craved. “I just wanted to be me again.” He found in the moment his life: washing dishes, brewing a cup of tea… in the ordinary was everything.
A walk through the trees touched for a day by a weak Indian summer was a fine setting for a walk and talk with my newest oldest friend. We bantered a bit about the situational politics of the current work. All the while ambling up on the reality of his heart attack.
What are the risks vs. rewards of placing a defibrillator into your heart?
I told David about Brenna’s recommendations and my intention of honoring them because she was a health care professional that loved me. I mentioned my treadmill and the scans.
That’s when David admitted he was pondering inserting a shock device into his heart. A restart button if things go south. His Washington Lawyer friend had one and owned that when they tested it he went from sitting to standing without knowing it.
I pushed the topic a bit and asked how it was to have his life back…
He responded with a story about Robinson Crusoe. Stuck on your island with three bags of grain. You don’t know how long you’ll be there. You have to plan on how to make the grain last. How much do you eat how much do you plant? Do you live well now, eating loaves of bread only to run out and face stark reality?
Later, back at his house as we sat in the living room watching the sun set on a late autumn river and filtered by willows… there just beyond the glass the geese honked and we kept talking and rocking.
Planning time seems so different to him now. It used to be easy to plan 5, 10, and 20 years out. Now all he can plan is wine purchasing…and he wonders when to start drinking the very best of his collection… it would be a shame to leave it untested.
I delivered a hug from Jan before I left.
I suggested that one day we’d have a conversation on the front porch of a villa in
We shook hands and said words of affirmation. We planned the next call and the next meetings.
Unspoken in both of us is the knowledge that we may never see each other again… not on this Earth at least. This is how it really is each time we part from someone we’ve grown to love… We may never see each other again.
I see Kyle’s face, I see Erin’s face, I see Brenna’s face, I see Janice’s face, I see my father’s face, I see my mother’s face, by brother’s faces…. And, although I’m alone, I see them all… am I in the now?
Right now I’m eating cashew chicken in a chop suey joint off of
Can I hold that image in my mind each time I see one of those precious few faces? Can I see you now and when?
It’s easier to picture a glass whole and broken; still it’s a useful thought. How to be in the very moment and touch the essence of what you truly love?
The broken glass is whole, is broken, and is whole.
(I wrote this on October 29, 2005. David and I are still kicking.)