Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

11 July 2010

Friend Ship


1.

I've made a few friends
in this lifetime, but not many.
Friendships, especially in the past
100 years or so
have disappointed me,
seared me
with agony
when I realized
the Friend thought
the Ship we had embarked upon
together
was meant to be captained
only by them

I had one friend
in the last 15 years
who I rather liked:
I met her in Ankara, and
early in our relationship
she asked me:
"So what is it that you want
from me?"
a question that startled me at first,
and I know she thought me
quaint
when I replied
"a friend."

I liked her frankness
but our friendship
did not last.  I
think she thought
that since I only needed a friend,
I would just always be waiting there
for her.
I didn't consciously end
the Friend Ship;
it just didn't sail
again, after I
left for other shores.


2.
I like it best
when my lover is my friend -
I find this most
economical.
However,
this can place many demands
on any man
who feels a woman is intended
for one purpose only.
I've learned this,
bitterly,
time and again,
to the point where,
recently,
I'd come to distrust
both
friendship
and 
love.


3.
In the last six months, I met
a new friend.
The temporary nature of our relationship
was apparent from the outset:
when I met her,
she was being treated for
terminal cancer.

She - her name is Linda -
startled me again
and again
with her honesty; hers was the kind
of honesty and faith
that I value and like to reciprocate.
She and I,
I believe,
agreed on what
it meant to be
a friend.
She welcomed me
into her life immediately;
she became a teacher and guide
to me
and I to her.

Little did I know that our friendship
would be cemented
in the act of her death.

She died early on Wednesday,
June 30.  Three weeks earlier
I had gone to a healing service
with her and her husband,
I knowing - perhaps more than they -
that this was most likely
a service to strengthen them
in their final weeks together.

She was very sick.

A week or so after that,
I learned her condition had worsened.
I called her home and learned
she was in hospice.

This is a very nice way Americans have
these days
of saying someone is
close to death.

Her husband told me she would
like to see me, but if,
for any reason,
I felt I couldn't visit
they would understand.

I could not not.
She was the first person I have met in decades
with whom I had felt such a kindred
bond.

On Monday, June 28,
I sat by her side.  I was humbled
by the love
I witnessed between
her, her husband, and her sons.

I wanted to say something
witty,
but all I could muster was
"thank you."
She seemed to want to reply
with wit,
and I saw her eyes scan
her mind for words as she
gasped for air.
And then she smiled,
and said:
"you're welcome."

She said her head was heavy;
her mouth was dry
from breathing.

She wanted water.

Her husband hurried to her
side, but she refused
him; she wanted me
to help.

I lifted her head, heavy
to her but light to me;
I held the glass; her fingers
leveled the straw.

She drank.

She was very thirsty.

Her husband fussed; she
waved his worry away.

I was there to help;
for that short drink
I was the friend she wanted
and needed most.

I rested her head back
on the pillow.
She wanted her head higher, and let
her husband help her then.

I watched them communicate
with silent gazes and whispers;
it felt so intimate,
but she insisted I come closer.

I sat with her for awhile,
just holding her hand and listening
to each 

inhale
exhale

inhale
exhale

inhale

exhale

with her husband too
who wept and listened,

hoping,

fearing

what would follow

inhale

exhale


I left her that way, and two
days later learned
of her death.

4.
She was a minister
in the Sufi Order.
Her memorial service celebrated
her many acts
of selflessness.

I sat and listened,
remembering
her head in my hand,

her gratitude

to me,

and mine

to her.

She is my latest great friend.


5.
My Lovely Linda
She taught me
to have faith
in love again.





3 comments:

a thorny rose said...

wow is all i can say.

Emme said...

Awesomely inspiring and loving and Im glad those experiences could bring you home back to love. Peace and love.

Makropoulos said...

Hi Emme, Thanks for your comment, and thanks for coming to visit! Peace and love to you too --