I don't know how to start this letter. Not because I wasn't prepared, because in a way I was, but not that you would go so soon and so suddenly.
Twenty years of knowing you is over. Twenty years of so many different memories, so many different times, periods of less contact, then new chapters with new bonding and other circumstances. We always found back though, even now, this last summer. And though we knew that you were leaving, that this was the last one, we made plans. Small plans, just to see each other, and we talked about photographs, that I would take your portrait. But there was not enough time, because today you went on that last journey.
A couple of weeks ago, you came here on the farm, it was a beautiful summer day and we sat outside on the porch, drinking coffee and talking. We talked about sad things and happy things, about funny memories and new perspectives. After you left, my husband said that it sounded like we had such a good time. That made me happy. And the things you said then, they resounded in me, they have done since then. You knew you were dying, and yet you were so happy, so cheerful, so grounded. So unafraid. You said that this spring had been the most beautiful spring you had ever experienced. That your senses were so much stronger, as if you absorbed the world with greater hunger and more joy than ever before. You were completely unsentimental about it, because you were so alive then, so here and now. And you said that the more adversity you lived through, the easier it became, as if you became stronger than it all. Your body was giving way, but your spirit would never break, and that's what you saw, and that's what you tried to comfort all of us with. That it wasn't sad, that life is beautiful, no matter what, every nuance of it.
And so today, you flew. After our friend called me and told me that you had gone, I remembered my dream from last night: I was walking around in your neighbourhood, looking for your house. I couldn't find it.
I went to the hospital to see you today, to say goodbye. It was raw and yet so peaceful, and as I sat by your bed and touched your skin, it was clear to me that you had left, that what remains is just a shell. And the contrast was so stark; I was there with a belly full of new life, with you just a few hours after you had passed. Life, in all its diversity and untouchable mystery.
This evening, I sat on the front porch and watched the sunset and the valley like so many times before, and I thought, What a beautiful day to leave this world. And although I felt so sad for you, the beauty you left behind in words and spirit made me feel thankful. I got to know you, and walk by your side in moments of this journey.
Thank you. For everything we shared and for what you taught me.