My New Pal

By Cynthia Ray

Recently, my friend and long-time love was hospitalized with a serious illness. Saying that he had a “brush with death” doesn’t come close to the visceral and gut-kicking experience. This is what it was like: Death grabbed me by the shoulder, spun me around and slapped me, leaving a throbbing bruise on my cheek, then pulled my face close to his and said, “You think you can ignore me? You think you can live your life as if I didn’t exist? I’m tired of being the invisible guest in everyone’s life. Wake up, sister! I’m your salvation.”

That got my attention. I sat next to my love, held his warm, living hand, and looked into his  eyes. Everything that was not important melted away; and most things seemed trivial and insignificant in that moment. The love we have always had for each other lit up the room.

Later, I wondered why we can’t connect like that all the time, not just with each other, but with family and friends, with strangers, with the grocery clerk at Fred Meyers.  When all we have is each other, why do we separate ourselves?

The experience forced me to reconsider everything in my life. What doesn’t matter anymore? What makes me feel connected and whole? What puts me to sleep? It is easy to become complacent and distracted; busy making grocery lists, doing laundry and balancing checkbooks while life goes on around us unnoticed and unfelt.  The sense of urgency and immediacy that I felt sitting on that hospital bed can fade away if I let it.

I don’t want to fall back into sleepy forgetfulness. After experiencing true, deep connection, nothing else will satisfy. Death is my new pal. He hangs around with me all the time; he says he doesn’t have that many friends, and it’s refreshing to have someone invite him in on a regular basis. The more I hang out with him, the more alive I feel.

This is more a blog about living than writing. However, there is a connection between writing and staying awake for me and I intend to continue to dig deeper into that in the coming months.


6 thoughts on “My New Pal

  1. Great post, Cindy. I just had one of those reminders. My nephew was in Nepal when the three earthquakes happened. I kind of had a nervous break down, but you’re right, the experience really wakes you up. This is why buddhist monks wear skull beads, to constantly remind them that life is transitory.

  2. Hugs to you, Mr. Ray and your new pal. I just visited my 102 year old grandmother. It reminded me of what she used to tell me when she was my age! “Time goes by quicker the older I get” Now she tells me, “Death is my new best friend”. Thanks for the reminder of what matters dear lady.

  3. I’m glad everything is OK with Mr. Ray. I was just talking to Liz about death last weekend — what a great conversation–more in the context of having a good death and how the medical community can ruin that. Anyhow, it got me thinking. Death really isn’t that far away — I’ve never been bitch-slapped by it though. 🙂

    • Ha! I would have fought back but he was way bigger than me… I agree about the medical community – their whole purpose is to avoid death at all costs, and sometimes, it is more prudent and healing to accept it and work to be able to have a meaningful death, with you in control. if it is possible

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