In Passing

My friend was actively dying, that I could see.  I suppose we all are to some extent.  Her dark skin sagged beneath the weight of it.  She'd been spending most of her time in the sun and looked like a native from a distant land.  Her hair had transformed - plastic, heavy and covered in a sheen of manufactured man made beauty.  Beneath the sewn in brown strands was her bald head.  She told me she missed the bare skin and rubbed her hand on top of her strange new hair.  It was so thick and uncomfortable looking I wanted to pull it, but I knew it would not come off.  She told me about her upcoming trip to Italy and how she always wanted to ride in a Gondola and did not want to be bald overlooking the beauty of Venice.  In her mind she had a picture.  A romantic image of an Italian holiday with her lover.  Cancer did not fit in.

So many things about her had changed.  She was a little bit slower, more tired.  Her tiny voice seemed to be coming from faraway like she was a balloon floating in outer space grasping the string with her own weary hand. Immune to gravity's earthly pull. I couldn't even get within a mile of how she was feeling.  The forward motion and marching on of her life was evident like a train on the tracks.  The destination known and dreaded.  How does one prepare for the end of the ride?  The span of time seemed to be closing in on us now.  The actual words in our conversations felt spacious and crowded - meaningful and unimportant.  How could I talk to her about my problems?  Perhaps they were a momentary distraction, but surely ridiculous and vain. 

For so long she had been in my daily life moving fast, rushing around, talking, making plans.  A hummingbird hardly at rest.  Now watching her struggle to stay awake during our short conversations was bizarre.  I didn't want to think that soon she would be gone.  Sitting in her home with dogs barking and framed pictures laughing, it seemed impossible that soon she wouldn't be there.  I wondered how long until her balloon floated into the sun.