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20180324_132119.jpgSome might say we make our appointment with Death on the day we are born. There are few promises we are given in life and death is one. So is life and temptation and choice. Dance, song, rain. Drought, snow, and wind that changes direction three times in the space of a day.

We come from imperfect, fragile seeds that force our way up, out, from the dark and into the cold light. We are imperfect, fragile humans told we must go “that way,” and we go with hands that are empty or hands that carry unnecessary burdens. Success is a word with little meaning, like failure. What matters is Life. What will we do with this one wild and precious life* we are given, that we don’t even know exists? What will we do with what remains of this one wild and precious life when we know we are at its end?

My friend is in transition and she knows but doesn’t know. She reclines, weak and full of effit on a broken branch, afraid it will fall, certain she did not cause its withering, fighting all of us and our outreached hands, begging her to come in, come back in, you will fall, please come in, but she knows best. We are watching the branch breaking beneath her. She pushed us away and we turned away and now we are watching her wither at the end of a branch that needn’t be.

My friend’s greatest treasures are her memories of her childhood family and of taking care of her children. We never talk at length about this life, today, or the future. In her best days and today at her withering branch, she’s only ever wanted to talk about her children, how she took care of them and knows what their favored foods are. I have listened to her heart breaking, and the hardest part for me is that she will not allow me to suggest she could try and make a change. It’s hard for me to watch a woman consign herself to misery and pain, who refuses to believe that she can be Herself and let go of everything else.

My friend’s body has been dying for a long time and she refused to respond to herself or anyone else’s push to seek wellness. I listen to a woman whose brain has so little function she can’t speak coherently, and I refuse to give up on her. She has no one else who will be patient with her.  I watched her branch wither, I stand on it and I struggle today to not fall to my death with her.  I will give what I can to her and her family, but my greatest wish is that she believed enough in herself to stay alive.

*Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”