I've lost friends in the past twelve months.
One was the dearest of souls who called to tell me of her diagnosis and I broke down crying because, well, I'm a selfish beast sometimes who could only think that my friend was in pain and sad and scared and I should have bucked up and been optimistic and calm and gentle instead. My failure haunts me.
One was a sassy gal I only saw at writer's conferences and I knew she had some health issues but she tended to want to talk about writing instead. I never brought up her health because that's not polite conversation and I figured it was the last thing she'd want to talk about.
The latest was a fab and funny woman I served on a board with, worked with, laughed with, and last saw at my book launch party in February of 2020. I didn't even know she was ill. Her face is still fresh in my memory, smiling as always.
They all had one thing in common in my narrow world--I didn't get to say goodbye. What would I give to have been able to spend just a few more minutes in their presence, putting every detail down to memory? A fat lot of whatever the Universe asked.
I try to be reasonable about it all. If I knew my prognosis was grim, that I may not have all the time I wanted on this Earth, it would be difficult to share that with even my close friends. I wouldn't want pity and I wouldn't want helpful advice about a new drug or a doctor or some herbal concoction. To be honest, I'm not certain I'd like my friends to visit, no matter how much I love them. It might be too raw.
What would I want?
Funny cards that make me laugh. Photos of people enjoying life. Weird little tchotchkes that remind them of me. Inside jokes to remind me of them. Communication.
But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.