Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Good Death

I feel like my blog has been kind of a bummer lately. I've been recovering from injury, talking about my daughter dealing with grief and relaying problems I been trying to solve. Now my neighbor has died. One of these days things will even out with a streak of sunshine and good tales but not today.

I have known "Bill" most of my life but only really knew him these last four years since we moved onto this street. I knew Bill early on as a photographer for the local newspaper and as someone who has always admired photography but never really excelled at it, I knew which pictures were his. In high school he moved on to being an artist and author but I never really knew those areas in his life until I moved to the neighborhood.

I don't recall our first meeting after our move but I'm sure he introduced himself as Bill and a light bulb went off in my head connecting Bill with Bill. He introduced his wife "Mary" who although I had never met in my life, millions of others have in the form of romance novels of which she has authored well over a hundred of them. Living on the same street as a professional photographer and both of them being known authors made me feel akin to living among royalty.

As the years went by, we got to know them as most of those who did know them couldn't. We knew them as friends and neighbors while others knew them as celebrities. Not only have we been over to their house to dine and converse, but I've had beers with Bill after a meeting in which we both are members. It wasn't a real close friendship but it was a neighborly friendship and I think that suited all of us just fine.

Bill was a smoker during the day as all newspaper people seemed to be and that caught up with him well before I got to known him personally in the form of a pulmonary disease and prostate cancer. Because of the former, they couldn't stop the latter and so it started slowing him down to the point where he was hospitalized and eventually moved to hospice.

Because of their celebrity status, they were by nature private people so it was with surprise that I received a call from Mary asking me if I could come see Bill at his request. I drove to hospice and when I entered the room, all puzzlement of 'why me of all people' disappeared when I saw the smile on his face. We talked for awhile but the drugs holding back the pain made him fade in and out a bit. When he finally faded into a sleep, it would be the second to the last time. He made it back into lucidity a handful of days later to request a chocolate milk shake which he said was damn good and then slipped back under. A few days later my wife and I were driving back over to comfort Mary until the funeral home could make it over to retrieve Bill for the start of his final journey.

The next several days will be busy as my organization (among others) honors Bill and provides comfort for Mary. I guess I write this as part grief therapy for me and part of an explanation if I don't post anything really interesting for a few days. I will be back and hopefully with something a little bit sunnier to talk about. Today is perhaps the most perfect day we have received this year, it is also the 30th anniversary of the death of Bill's father and it is a religious holiday in the faith of Bill who was very religious. Bill picked a good day to leave behind his earthly bonds.

Bill had a good death.

5 comments:

Kelly said...

Death is certainly a part of life.

I'm glad you had one last good visit with him. Funny about those last cravings, too. My sister wanted a Coke float and the ecstasy on her face when we finally managed to get it to the consistency she could get it up the straw was priceless.

Prayers for all concerned.

Bob said...

Condolences, Ed. You were obviously a very goof friend to Bill.

Bob said...

My apologies -- *good* friend.

sage said...

I am sorry for your loss but thankful you got to spend some time with him in hospice. I know you will be a comfort to his wife.

kymber said...

Ed - i never know what to say in these kinds of situations. except that i know it hurts. and you must allow yourself time to grieve. he may not have been your bestest-bestest buddy from kindergarten and all through your life....but he was your friend. and it hurts. and you must allow it to hurt, make you think about mortality, grieve and accept.

i'm glad it was a good death. and glad that you got to see him. sending much, much love. your friend,
kymber