Death doesn’t wait for love to finish tying up the loose ends

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Our friend died Thursday

I already told you that.

He was dear to us. He and his wife are the glue that hold much of our community together. In the 7 years since we’d met, we’ve come to love them both like grandparents. I’ve watched them hold hands, weed the yard, sit dutifully outside for every community yardsale. The first to offer help in a household emergency, the last to leave community events when there was clean up involved. The first to offer prayers and a shoulder during Bill’s relapse with MS a few years ago. We toted the girls over there before every ballet recital so that D and wife could see the girls all dressed up. They missed our wedding because another couple they knew was renewing wedding vows. They told me that they wanted to be there, but other couple didn’t have any family left and only a few friends (other couple has some pretty profound disabilities and limited social outlets) and that they needed their physical presence more than we did. D and wife are very practical like that. We understood completely.

A few weeks ago we saw the fire trucks pull up to D and wife’s home. This wasn’t unusual, but it was odd not to see it followed by an ambulance. D has had cancer for some time, ambulance trips were common.

No ambulance came. Bill and I were both worried about what that could mean.

Anyway, after a few minutes I popped over to ask wife if she needed me to take her to the hospital to follow the ambulance. I was dreading what she’d say right up until she answered the door, laughing the whole way.

D wasn’t ill, D’s wheelchair was stuck on the chair lift that went down to their basement. I didn’t ask what the heck he was doing going to the basement at all, I just smiled and said “whew, so glad he’s up and around today” and went back home. It was late.

Turns out that D went to the basement that day because the love of his life, wife, had worried that once he’d passed she’d need to move (she doesn’t) and she would have a heck of a time going through all of his tools and basement stuff. He didn’t want to leave the task to wife. He wanted to make sure he took care of her before he was gone.

So, he went to clean the basement.

48 years of the ravages of MS. A few months of radiation. Surgeries to put in feeding tubes so he could still get his nutrients once the tumor pressed on his esophagus, making eating impossible. Wheelchair bound, trouble taking a simple breath, cancer, MS, complications with diabetes.

He didn’t want to leave anything unfinished.

He died quietly. Quickly. Just before 10 am.

Sitting in his chair, having coffee with his wife, his son.

Just like that. It was a lull in the conversation, on offer for a refill of hot coffee and son said “I think Dad is gone.”

And, he was.

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