Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saying goodbye…one year later

Today is the anniversary of the loss of a dear friend. Dennis and I got together at our favorite restaurant, Caro Amico’s in SW Portland. It’s a place we’ve come to many times. We know Butch, who runs the place and always makes a point of stopping by our booth or table to say hi. Though Leslie didn’t drink much, and neither does Beth, we nevertheless hoisted one in her honor…maybe two…perhaps it was three.

One year ago I remember listening to a message on my cell phone, some time after my friend Dennis left the message…”Leslie had an accident at home, a bad fall. She’s injured her head and suffered some brain damage…it doesn’t look good.”


Of course I called him back as soon as I listened to the message. “Do you want me to come to the hospital?” I asked. “No. I’ll be fine” he said. I hung up and looked at Beth, shocked. She looked at me after I recounted the conversation to her. It seems Leslie had slipped or fallen after putting the car into the garage, and somehow hit her head on the concrete floor or stoop. “I think you should go the hospital” she said to me. Of course I should…Dennis is perhaps my best friend.

The drive to the hospital was a long one. It was a Monday evening in January. We just had dinner together on Saturday night…was that only two days ago? I found Dennis in the emergency room. He was surprisingly calm, yet I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s always had a deadpan sense of humor…even droll. He is also someone you want around in an emergency, because of his levelheadedness. Funny, but now this is his emergency.

We sat and talked. Two doctors came towards us, and we stood. It was the doctors who were treating Leslie. Nothing…absolutely nothing prepares you to witness a doctor telling someone there is nothing they can do, and it is just a matter of time.

“Do you want us to resuscitate should her heart stop? It will probably not change anything.”
The words echoed in my mind. How could this be? We were just together two days ago. Leslie had even left a message on Beth’s phone.

After several hours at the hospital, I went to get Dennis’ car and helped him to get in. He drove home and I walked to my car. The next morning I received a call from Dennis. Leslie had passed away early in the morning.

We hoisted a drink in Leslie’s memory. We miss her. We talked about the good times, and then it was time to go home. As we walked out of the lounge, we stopped to say hello to Butch. Of course he remembered Leslie, and he asked how Dennis was doing. He also said something profound…”be thankful for the years you had.”

Butch is right, of course. It is so easy to become morose and sad, and some of it is natural and human, but in the end we must be thankful…thankful for the time we could share together. We had wonderful times, and nothing can take those memories away.

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