During the weekend of the 4th of February when Asociación Girasol was celebrating its first AGM, I was visiting a friend who was terminally ill with cancer.
She had known for a while that she wasn´t going to get better and she used the time she had left to put things in their place. She made her own decisions until the end.We are all frightened of death but knowing that you are going to die has its advantages: we reconcile ourselves with family members and long lost friends, we communicate honestly, we appreciate every minute left, the flowers smell sweeter, we see everything more sharpely and the words we say have more meaning than ever.
An Australian nurse, (Bonnie Ware – Blog: Inspiration and Chai) who has worked for many years with terminally ill patients, and who has analysed the regrets of her patients says that to be confronted with their own mortality her patients grew, and had a clarity of vision, and that we can all learn from their wisdom. My friend prepared herself and above all sorted things out so that her husband, who has Alzhiemers, would be well looked after in her absence.
She even organised her own funeral.
During the last months she attended the local palliative care unit twice a week.
Volunteers would pick her up and she told me that she had a great time, meeting people in the same situation as she was, and sharing joys and sorrows, receiving complementary therapies such as massajes. A volunteer discovered she was a good artist and asked her if she would like to share her pictures with her friends in the unit. So they put on an exhibition of her paintings which everyone enjoyed and for my friend it was truly exiting as she never would have believed that the public would see her works of art. After the exhibition she tried her hand at pottery and created the lovely jug in the photograph which she generously donated to Asociacion Girasol. She spoke a lot about the personnel in the unit: the volunteers and professional staff, all of who made her feel like a person and not a patient.
She isn´t with us anymore, but I remember her sense of humour, her laughter, her intelligence and the practical way in which she confronted her life and her death and every time I look at the jug I think of her, and every time I touch it I caress her face. Goodbye my friend. See you later.