On not dying alone

Strange dream last night: I heard that a friend at school had gone to Florida for a ski trip. He broke his arm and went to the hospital. While he was there, the doctors found a malignant brain tumor. He would die within the week.

The next day, I ran into another friend at school. He said, “Did you hear what I happened?”

“Yes.”

“Man, lucky guy, huh? He gets to stay in Florida and relax.”

“But he’s going to die…”

My friend shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and walked away.

Later, I called my friend on the phone. He said, “Thanks for calling me. You know, it’s been really hard. No one has come to see me. I’m all alone. I’m dying, and there’s no one here with me. I’m scared.” He started crying. I sat and listened, not saying a word. Then I woke up.

I’ve never had this experience of sitting beside a person in the final moments. At some point, words fail. All that I can do is to sit with them so that they do not die alone.

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