Thursday, 29 September 2016

Important Words

I've been thinking a lot lately about the death of my ex-brother-in-law, Peter Kehler; the suddenness of it, the unexpectedness of it, the shock of it. I find myself thinking about those last conversations, those last interactions before he had his stroke and died within a few days. In some ways it is a fortunate thing that his family had an opportunity to be with him, to say important things, to hold his hand, to sit with him.

When my Dad passed away, it was a similar thing, where people had time to come and visit knowing plainly that they would never get to see him again, to talk with him again. I had long since arrived at a place of peace with my Dad; I had no burdens to unload or crosses to unbear. There was nothing I needed to say to him; oddly enough my Dad and I had been having some fairly serious conversations in the years before he died, talking about his life, his losses, and what he wanted his last days to look like.

That kind of buffer time, that few precious hours between life and death, is not likely to be the case with me. I've noticed a pattern with PALS; they seem to be moving along just fine and suddenly one night they pass away. For such a long, slow disease, death seems to happen in an instant, without those lingering moments where you get a chance to gain closure in life. I am fairly certain that is what will happen to me. I'll be getting on with my life, then one day I will go to bed and my breathing will fail, or I will choke on my own saliva, or something equally quick and gruesome.

There will be no gentle slide from life to death for me. At least that's what I think will happen, but then again, this disease continually surprises me. Who knows? I might die from a heart attack or stroke, just like Peter. In general, though, odds are that it will be something from ALS that finally gets me, or makes me want to get myself.

Peter's departure was sudden, but not too sudden for precious last words and moments. My departure is slow; those around me think there's lots of time to spend with me yet. After all, my ALS is moving slowly, right? I hope that is true yet I know that it is not. There will seem to be lots of time, plenty of opportunity for that last conversation, that last glass of wine, that last road trip. Then, suddenly, there won't. I will die. Phone calls will be made. There will, in an instant, be no more opportunity to say important words.


  1. Except that yes, now you are here with us, and we with you, cherishing each moment.

    Thank you...

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