Today, I had the great privilege of seeing my dear friend, Michael Novita, one last time. He is dying of terminal lung cancer and will be removed from life support tomorrow afternoon. When I first got the news that this would be happening I unabashedly shed a river of tears. And, he was worth every one. Michael is one of the most gentle people I have ever met - so much so, that he couldn't even watch violent cartoons! But, his race has been run. There is no escape. His life has become a series of tubes, wires, beeps, and clicks of the machines that artificially keep him "alive".
It's time to go, my dear friend. And, I told him so.
At the hospital, I found him tethered to dozens of machines who's flashing lights made the room look like something out of a science fiction movie. The nurse told me that he had a difficult day, so he was heavily sedated. Despite his lack of consciousness, I sensed a certain awareness was still within him. So, I stroked his hair gently and whispered, "I love you, my friend. Don't be afraid. It's OK for you to go." Perhaps, he didn't really hear me but I did notice him close his eyes a little tighter at the sound of my voice. Besides, the loving sentiment can only do good and no harm.
Of course, when it struck me that this would be the last time we would communicate on this earth, I wept deeply again. I will miss my dear friend. But, after my tears dried, a feeling of well being came over me. I began to realize what a great privilege it was to be there for his final hours, helping to shepherd him to the other side. Death is every bit a part of our existence. No one gets out of here alive. So, we'd better get used to it. Because it is part of who we are, we should not fear it. The more we understand this the easier it is to deal with. In fact, it should be seen as a sacred event - every bit as much as birth is!
After about a half-hour, it was time for me to go. There was nothing more that I could do there. I stroked his hair, whispered in his ear how much I loved him, thanked him for being my friend, and told him not to be afraid one last time. Then I said, Au revoir - because it doesn't mean GOOD BYE - it means UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN.
And, I stepped out into the pouring rain . . .