My best friend is in the hospital living out her final days at the time of writing this entry. While she is experiencing a delirium that I wish was far nicer than the one she is currently enduring, I have been relegated to the outskirts of her life; nothing more than a future attendee at a funeral that has already been arranged and is only awaiting her arrival now. Dumpsters have been ordered, and the beloved contents of her tiny apartment are being assessed for worth, discarded, or collected by others. If you find it shocking that this is already occurring let me remind you that vultures are very predictable and do not always wait for actual death before they descend.
As I sit here now, I am critically aware of how little all of this resembles what she actually wished for in all of the ‘in the event of…’ conversations we both had over the years. It illustrates a final indignity afforded to a woman too used to being misunderstood and shunned and, had she still been able to comprehend her current situation, her Leonine temper would fill the world in a glorious blaze of fire and mayhem.
I was lucky enough to know her wishes. I had them all memorised after years worth of familiarity, just as she knew mine, but ensuring that they are carried out as she wished them to be has become impossible for this black sheep to manage. On the rare moments that I have been able to make her wishes known they have been largely ignored, or completely steam-rolled, while I have been squeezed further and further out of the closing days of her life. No one has been quite rude enough to slam the door in my face, but the hands are on the door knob and only a small space remains before that door is considered ‘shut’. That was one scenario we did not plan for. The words of a ‘black sheep’ mean nothing to those who can push us aside with ease and, old friend, we should have seen that one coming! There was a flaw in that plan and it is too late to shore it up now!
That flaw is even more shocking to me now, given how meticulously she and I had planned so many things over the long years of our acquaintance. Our last great plan, before her sudden illness, surrounded survival in a post- apocalyptic world. We were each other’s chosen ‘survival companions’. Both our ‘bug out bags’ had been prepped and packed with the other in mind. They contain two of everything. Who knows what will become of her own pack now, which included the beautiful re-curve bow that she bought, when we could not afford two. She had really wished to buy me one as well. “That’s okay”, I had reassured her. “I can make my own, or use yours while you use another [insert another weapon here and imagine the rest of the various sentences, for I will not type them here]”. That is simply how we worked. And that is how we planned, and that is how we functioned as a team. If one was ‘without’ we planned what we would do to get around the scenario and work through it together. Unfortunately, I have no single idea how to get around this one without her! My bag remains packed, still with her needs in mind. Although I am now without my travelling companion, of course. Likewise, I am trying to function now, with her needs and final wishes in mind, without the ability to enforce them.
Her wishes were very straightforward. So are mine. My son is the heir to all my worldly goods, apart from several very specific items that I had set aside for others, including a few for my dying friend who will now no longer receive them. It has always been the case, and my friend knew this well. I fully expect those wishes to be ignored ‘in the event…’ but my demise will be much different than hers.
A pauper’s funeral awaits me; a burial in an unmarked grave, attended by none but a witness of the State and those involved in overseeing such a service. Mayhap a lone stranger will walk past and feel unnecessary pity for a soul who has departed the world so utterly alone. As I am still alive right now, I will say “Thank you” to that impending stranger and add “Your kindness is a blessing but do not feel sorry for me. I am, at heart, a despicable creature. Please save your love for one far more deserving than me, and I shall hope these words reach your ears somehow before I am dead”.
Lest anyone think I am doing nothing more here than indulging in a fit of ridiculous self-loathing and exhibiting a pathetic cry for attention and sympathy, I want to assure you now that I am not! I am a realist. The previous description of the end of my life is nothing more than slightly malleable fact- because a stranger may not walk past at all, or I may die quite suddenly in a post-apocalyptic scenario. The words are not written to affect you! Go on with your lives and cherish those you love. Leave pariahs like me to our own fate because we know it better than you do!
But, this pariah does have another wish, if you care to listen. Make sure your loved ones know you care because you never know when it is ‘time’. If you are the sort of individual who is particularly concerned about what happens to those you leave behind ‘in the event of…’ then may I suggest that you make those wishes exceptionally clear? Take a moment to think on what you would wish for, if death came calling sooner than you hoped. Have all those matters been seen to? Would you want your best friend alienated? Your child left to give in to the wants of others because their grief has stripped them of their own assertiveness, as grief is wont to do? Would you want your life partner challenged in court for the possessions you held so dear? Think, my readers. Really, really think and, if you find a flaw in your plans, akin to the one I am living right now, fix it while you still can!
Of course, even if you were to write your wishes in the sky for all the world to see, there is no guarantee that they will be carried out. But maybe this Blog post will save someone’s loved one added pain at a time already filled with grief if one of you decides to firm up your plans ‘in the event…’ and really closes those loopholes. Do not wait. Tomorrows are never assured.
Thank you for reading this far.