Today an old friend of mine stopped by to visit. He used to live in Atlanta and moved up to Massachusetts about two years ago. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen each other, and I was glad to have the opportunity to visit with him today.
It has been just over three months ago that he stopped his chemotherapy. His doctors gave him three to six months to live.
No, he has not miraculously recovered. His cancer is still active, and he is still dying. But more importantly, he is still living.
My friend has always had an ability to embrace the life he is living, no matter what that life has to offer him. Now, facing his own mortality, he is taking the time to say his goodbyes, to let go of what he needs to let go of, and to enjoy the days that he has. I was honored to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, knowing quite well how precious each day is for him–and for all of us, really.
We took a walk around Walden Pond. It seemed like a good place to spend a couple of hours. We stopped at the site of Thoreau’s cabin, and marveled at the size of the cairn–the pile of rocks left by hundreds of pilgrims and tourists. We talked and reminisced. We planned for the possibility of him passing through North Carolina later this summer. We commemorated our friendship.
And we said goodbye.
It’s easy to honor family and friends after they have left us. It’s harder to remember to honor their lives while they are still with us.
Hardest of all, though, is to honor the life we are living, while we are living it–no matter what that life brings.