Saying Hello

A little over a week ago, I made plans to visit friend in the hospital. It was a well laid plans, but it was not meant to be, and that’s OK.

Knowing my friend was dealing with some big decisions and wanting, most of all, not to intrude on her privacy, I texted her the day before to make sure she’d be up for or even want a visit. She texted back “Anytime.” The response wasn’t out of character for her, but I planned to text again, just in case her status changed.

Last year I was working weekends so that I could do a teaching internship a few days a week. The arrangement kept me locked to my computer most of the time and torpedoed most of my social life and lay waste to creative time. My one bit of girlfriend time came on Saturday mornings when I went to work at a favorite café. My friend would join me for a little brunch, and we would sit and solve the worlds problems for a couple hours while I worked.

It was such a little thing, and yet, for me, it was huge. It kept me (and I hope, her) tethered with the kind of social interaction everyone needs. It was our way of saying “hello” to possibilities.

Our brunches tapered off in the summer –she still worked every other weekends, and I was busy with the kids — but we still texted, always making the attempt to connect.

By the next afternoon, it was clear that her status had deteriorated. Seeing no response to another text, I went about some errands and went home, not wanting to disturb her privacy or quiet. I was sad, knowing it might be the last chance to see this person, but visits are about what the person in the hospital needs, not what the visitor may want.

Another friend is chronicling her story on his blog as he helps her navigate hospice. I know, given her condition, we may have said our goodbyes, and, while I will mourn when she passes away, I am choosing to focus on the ways we said “hello” to each other. I know that you never really say goodbye to people who have made a difference – however briefly- in your life.

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