Friday, April 9, 2010

Being with a Friend

I suppose I've made it my mission, by love and by commitment, to be there for Isabelle and Paul Pierre to the extent that I'm helpful (when I'm present, Paul Pierre can leave to handle various errands, shop, be on the computer, etc.,) and that I bring joy and friendship and new topics of conversation to the table.

There are occasions elsewhere that the fact that I might make a slight slurping noise when I drink a very hot cup of tea, held in two hands just below my chin as I rest my elbows on the table is remarked upon. And there are those who find my conversation at times too self-centered. And at other times too full of questions focused on the person before me. Yes, I was raised in another land and these are things that aren't viewed with scorn or particular note in my birth country. However, if you served me in gold-leafed demi-tasse with silver spoons and damask cloth, not to worry, I would sip in a manner fit for a queen. But does any of that really matter?

How strange and diverse the things that pre-occupy. How absurd it all feels when in the presence of someone with but two months to live and her most adoring husband who will do anything to bring a smile to her face. The care I witness, the love, the tenderness, the will to be. Yes, tears do flow.

For Isabelle and Paul Pierre I am a story teller, I bring energy, I bring entertainment. I come to be with them in that moment, to distract, to entertain, to help as I might. I cook of course. I bring a loaf of my bread, or some of my wild rocket leaves, perhaps a bottle of JP's wine. I contribute.

This past visit I brought my yoga mat, many many photos and my itunes collection on my computer. I chatted, I took strange poses, I shared my visual life and my musical taste. Then I made lunch, and joined in discussions that ranged from architecture to family, children to culture, food to wine and much much more. Isabelle contributed as she could, often repeating the same two or three phrases that seemed apropos at all times. But she was there. Perhaps there was no more than 5 minutes history of our conversation at any given time in her head, but that was fine. She was there. She participated. She laughed. She expressed herself.

Paul Pierre told me that he'd had the recent news from the doctors that there would be perhaps two months at most. That gradually she'll sleep more and more. And with this is the decision to do his and our best. No more the no-salt diet. No more medicine. He still needs to encourage her to drink water, to rest. But from this point on in what way can he tempt her to eat? How can he make each moment pleasant? warm? tender? As the days warm he will bring her outside to sit and appreciate the evolving spring.

Inevitably, the day will come when she can no longer walk down those steps. Inevitably the day will come when she will have difficulty nourishing herself. Inevitably it will be harder and harder.

He will be there. His daughter will be there. A handful of dear friends and family members will be there. And when my presence is helpful, I will try too.


Gillian said...

AS I discovered supporting and sharing my husbands life with and subsequent death from, cancer, I can vouch that you are the privileged one. You are learning so much.

tous jeux pour enfant said...

Thank you!

Gillian said...

PS Meant to add that your sensitivity to the situation is admirable, a lot of people haven't yet developed the level of maturity and love to enable them to gracefully enter into the sacredness of such beautiful, poignant and painful circumstances. It's about entering fully into love.

Madeleine Vedel said...

Gillian, it is a privilege to be with people who are living such a moment. There is clarity, there is integrity, there is love. What more truly matters? Their only regret is that they might have worked fewer hours, perhaps milked the goats but once a day sooner in the season... I hear them. I give as I'm able, but I am receiving a thousand-fold.