Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Emilie

I saw Emilie, for the last time, less than 4 days before she passed away. I feel so fortunate that I got to see her one last time. I was going away to Canada for the holidays and, after learning that Emilie was entering into home hospice care, I decided that I wanted to have a short visit with her before leaving. I didn't really believe that it would be the last time I'd ever see her. Well, maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it might be my last chance to see her, but honestly, I didn't really think that was possible. I didn't think she'd go so quickly. I don't think she thought she would either.

So, I went to see Emilie on Saturday, December 20th, and I had a short visit with her. She was in her bedroom, laying in her just-recently-delivered hospital bed. We visited for a short time and I quickly realized that she was tired--extremely tired--so I decided I should let her rest. I didn't say anything meaningful to her whatsoever because, although I felt a great deal for her, I wouldn't have known how to say what I felt without it sounding like I thought she would pass away before I returned from Canada. I didn't want to send her that message. I did hug her, though, and she returned my hug, and I am so grateful that I got to do that. It turns out it was my goodbye. We embraced for what was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like more than that. I stood up with tears welling in my eyes, but I did not let myself cry--not then. I reached down and touched her leg, and told her I'd see her when I got back. I really thought I would.

Only a small part of me feels regret about not telling her, during that visit, what she meant to me . I think she knew that I cared about her. No, I'm sure she did. I know she knew that I liked and admired her. I wanted her to have more time with her family, and it felt wrong to me to speak to her as though she would soon die. Yes, there is a tiny part of me that wishes I could tell her some of the things I so admired in her, and what kind of impact knowing her had had on me. I suppose if I had known beyond a shadow of a doubt that that last visit was my only chance to tell her, I might have said something like this:

I want to strive to be half the person you are. I want to be present in my life as much as possible; to speak up if necessary; to take care of my body the way you take care of yours; to ask questions; to be generous; to be more empathetic; to offer to help others, really mean it, and then do it; to show my gratitude more by writing thank you notes--promptly; to read more; to be gentler with Kate; to love my husband well; to be willing to be vulnerable and let people in; to be open to the possibility that there is more to this life than just the time we have on the earth. Knowing the kind of person you are, makes me demand more of myself.

I witnessed Emilie do these things, and be these ways, many times. She was a thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent person. She was a wonderful human being--one of the best I've ever met--whom I feel honoured to have known. I will miss her. I truly hope that Emilie is in a better place now.

2 comments:

Wordgirl said...

Shannon,

I have tears in my eyes having just read this. It is such a beautiful tribute to your friend. I was so so sorry to hear about her death.

I truly believe this is how people live on it us, though -- that we carry them with us -- in how we treat one another, in what they've taught us.

You and I will have to meet in person one day. We can share these thoughts over coffee.

I hope you're being gentle with yourself -- I'm sure Emilie knew how you felt -- so often we transmit it through our very being there -- I'm certain she understood how deeply you cared for her.

Love,

Pam

Shannon said...

Thank you, Pam. Your words were a comfort to me.

I would like to meet you in person one day. Talking over coffee sounds great.