I went to have a cup of coffee with my mom this morning; instead, I said goodbye – for the last time. I went to see her, knowing that she hadn’t been well, and when I arrived, she was unconscious and couldn’t be roused. I know she could hear me, because when I called her name, she tried to answer – and when I told her to “wake up”, she groggily said “I’m awake.” But she couldn’t open her eyes or even move her head. I didn’t know at the time that she was saying goodbye to life as she’d known it for 90 years.
The other day, a friend asked me how I want to die. I hadn’t expected the question, so my answer was somewhat thoughtless; “quickly” was my response. Not that I necessarily want to die soon – but when it’s time, I want to go quickly, not linger knowing what’s inevitable. He gave us (his class…I was visiting a favorite professor from college) a challenge by telling us the story of his dad – how when he found out that he had only a couple of months to live, he decided to spend the time “saying goodbye” to friends and loved ones, drinking coffee, catching up – maybe doing whatever was necessary for him and the others to feel as if they were finishing well with their relationships and enjoying what time was left.
I thought about that a lot, and I like it. I also thought about my response to his question, and I think I’ll stick with my answer. But I think I’ll amend it a bit and take up his challenge this way: I hope that before I die, whenever that is, I’ll feel as if my relationships are healthy and enjoyable and as caught up as possible in today’s fast-paced world. I hope I can be a blessing to those around me, and in turn be blessed because of others, whether I see them regularly or never again. I hope I’ll be able to live well and finish well with each of them, whether they’re a mile away or a continent. And I hope I’ll feel “comfortable” with death knowing that I’ve lived as unto the Lord and that I’ll go to a better place.
I guess I just want to have the confidence of knowing that all is right with the world in my relationships. I want the people I love to know how grateful I am for each of them and that I cherished every minute with them — and that those cups of coffee we shared meant more than just having a hot drink.
So I said good-bye to my mom…not over coffee, as I would have liked — but I hope she was ready, with enough pots of coffee behind us to know that we were all caught up and finishing well.