Today I Can't Shake the Memory of a Call I Had in August

  1. Eunice, a dear friend of my dad's, had passed somewhat suddenly, and her spouse, Nigel, had written a beautiful letter about her final days.
  2. My dad called to see if I'd seen it. He was broken-hearted.
  3. Eunice and Nigel were both in their 80s, though she was many years older than he was. They'd fallen in love young, while married to other people. Last time I'd seen them, they were still holding hands and looking dreamily into each other's eyes at the dinner table.
  4. In the letter, Nigel talked of his wife's decision to allow herself to die after the discovery of an issue in her stomach. He spoke of her having no pain, and ten days prior they didn't even know she was ill.
  5. In the hospital, she was surrounded by friends and family, laughing and enjoying their company. In the afternoon, it was discovered she had peacefully stopped breathing.
  6. Nigel spoke of expecting to sob but instead feeling calm. He wrote:
    "I then put my hand under the bedclothes and held her still warm hand for a whole hour and three-quarters, with a sense of peace, rest and contentment of a nature and intensity that I have never experienced in my life before – her last gift to me."
  7. My dad was terminally sick with cancer and 79. He felt his friends dying all around him, and each one unsettled him more.
  8. I said to him that Eunice's death was sad, but at least she died surrounded by the people she loved, and she'd enjoyed a long and happy life. He mumbled something inaudible in agreement, said bye and hung up the phone without waiting for a goodbye from me.
  9. That day his he'd met his palliative care nurse. It was all starting to feel too real for both of us.
  10. A day and a half later, surrounded by my mom, step-siblings and brother-in-law, he died. It was months earlier than expected. I was in LA, by myself. I'd gotten the call while in the middle of a shower.
  11. Our talk about Eunice was the last one we had. I can't stop thinking about it.