349 Days Remain

Deb and I have known each other for nearly 30 years.

When you know someone that long, you begin to turn into sisters.

If all of my goodbyes are as hard as this one, I’ll drown in a sea of tears before my final year is out.

I wrote these words in my journal the first night of my visit with Deb and her open-hearted partner, Sven.  I’d flown out to San Francisco so we could spend a final weekend together.  Having had another close friend go through a “Year to Live” project, they immediately understood why this trip was packed with such meaning.

“So what do you want to do with this time together? ” Deb asked pointedly.

All I wanted was to simply be together – preferably in nature.  And if I could get up close with a majestic redwood before I said farewell to California too, all the better.

With the weather gods on our side, we set out each morning.  Cherry trees were blossoming in February, and we spent hours wandering the trails along the dramatic coast line.

Mostly I spent the time feeling overwhelmingly grateful for our years of closeness.  We hugged a lot.  We acted silly, frolicking near the water’s edge.  We ate amazing local breads and cheeses (hey – why worry about cholesterol when you’re dying!), and sipped fresh brewed teas.  The three of us talked late into the night about life and life’s work, fighting waves of exhaustion to keep the conversation going.

When it came time for our farewell, I realized that my welling tears were more about the preciousness of our bond than a craving for its continuity.

Deb pressed a bright blue glass talisman from Sven’s recent trip to Turkey into my hand as we said goodbye in the BART station on Mission Street.

“It’s for protection on this journey, Barb, ” she said.

I love you so much, dear Deb.  Thank you for adding beauty to my days.

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