December 2, 2015:
As many of you already know, my brother and best friend Dave died yesterday at 9:30 in the morning, while in Hospice Respite Care at Holy Redeemer Hospital, Huntingdon Valley. Emily, his wife, and Sharon, a nursing assistant, were with him at the time. Sharon had just finished combing his hair (something Dave thoroughly enjoyed) and was buttoning his shirt when Emily noticed that Dave’s arm suddenly dropped to his side and a different look came over him. They called to him, but he was unresponsive. “He was physically still alive, but it was as though he had already crossed over into another state,” Sharon said. She told us that he never looked at all agitated and that, in fact, his was one of the most peaceful deaths she has witnessed.
Dave talked openly about dying. It was never morbid, just real. He loved his life and was quite pleased with how he was living it. He said he had no regrets. He said he was at peace with death. His only fear had to do with how he might die—whether it would be calm or a struggle. It appears that he got his wish for a serene passage.
I’ll write more about Dave in the near future—how he lived his last days, how much he loved “the dear people from Hospice” who took such great care of him, the depth of his love for Emily and hers for him. I’ll also let you know about the memorial service, celebrating Dave’s life, which we plan to have in his honor, sometime in the next few months.
For now, though, I want to concentrate on fulfilling a promise I made to him:
Several months ago, Dave asked me to send a message on his behalf, shortly after his death, to all who knew him. Here is what he wanted to say to you:
“We can never know exactly when death will come, so we can never know exactly how much time we have with another person. Most of us have busy lives. We also don’t always know what’s best for the dying person in terms of phone calls and visits. If you wish you could have visited me one more time, but it just didn’t happen, it’s okay. If you thought about calling me but, for whatever reason, weren’t able to, that’s alright. If you feel there was something unresolved between us, don’t sweat it. There’s no need to agonize about any of this. As far as I’m concerned, we’re good, we’re okay. Please don’t spend a lot of time wishing and worrying. Just go ahead and live the best life you can. Be compassionate toward yourself. That’s what I want for you.”
With much love,