I sat in silence on the couch beside my dear friend of over twenty years. Across the darkened room from us were sliding glass doors to her deck. The silk flowers from last fall were still standing tall in the two large containers near the back. The spring sunlight brought them to life as they glow their rich orange and yellows, seeming less out of place than they had in late January.
My friend loves gardens and enjoyed the two small patches on each side of the porch at the front of her house. Last year I did my best to keep them up for her as chemotherapy robbed her of her strength. By the end of summer she only saw them as she shuttled to and from a car.
On this afternoon of my weekly visits she was unusually quiet, more likely weak. When I called earlier in the morning to make sure she would not be at a medical appointment she said that she hadn’t eaten much in the past two days. We shared doubts about my bringing lunch.
I called a friend who works at a nursing facility and asked what to bring someone that sick with cancer. She made a few suggestions, one of which was potatoes. My dear friend loves potatoes. She had told me stories of growing potatoes when she was a girl. Over the years I shared with her those from my own garden; Pontiac Reds, Yukon Gold and more recently
Early last summer, while she watched, I had planted a few hills of
Kennebec in a small raised bed at the corner of her house. Several weeks later when harvested, she ate them almost daily until they were gone.
So on this day for our lunch I brought potatoes and gravy from KFC. I brought enough for several days. She was delighted when I set a small steaming bowl of them on the TV tray before her. I watched her savor each spoonful, and there were only five, and then lunch was over.
We continued to sit together and she dozed in and out. I held her hand and looked at how thin and like porcelain it had become. At one waking moment I asked her “How goes it with your soul?” She smiled fully, chuckled lightly and answered “Just fine.” I smiled back and we recognized the joy in each others eyes. The gift of a life well lived is peace while the body declines. Then a shadow passed over her face and she said that though she wasn’t having any trouble with “it” a lot of others around her were. She turned away and looked out the patio doors.
|Artist: Pan Van Londen|
(I love her work!)
I followed her eyes to where several gaily wrapped and ribboned pots of spent daffodils sat on the steps to the deck. Easter gifts from well wishers, no doubt. She asked me about planting them for her out in front of the house. I said I would, adding that bulbs forced to flower for spring sales had only a 20% chance of surviving until next year.
As she leaned back into the couch I smiled to myself: My dear friend, always hopeful, she intended to see them bloom next spring. That was until she whispered “They have better odds than I.”
I patted her hand and we smiled again. I would plant the daffodils next week and in the meantime pray that she would be strong enough to come out and supervise the effort.