Nineteen days I have been away. Nineteen days that have marked my life. Nineteen days of mostly walking quietly, listening, seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Asking a few questions and listening some more. When asked "will you do this?", saying yes whether I wanted to or not or whether I had done it before or not. My willingness made me qualified for the task. My willingness made me want to do the tasks. Just like the others around me.
I joined their willing example when I arrived to the loving vigil. I was allowed to step in and link arms and serve. There was waiting; there was giving pain meds; there were phone calls; there were photos; there was laughter; there were tears; there was tension; there was love. And there were lots of hugs.
There was really good food, wine and beer. There was labored breathing. There was ice cream. There were groans. There was chocolate. There were stories. There was laughter. There were tears. There was waiting and lots of hugs. There were family and friends who were really family, too. There was little sleep. There was a quiet last breath.
And I was there. Usually I live 900 miles away but I was allowed to be there, for nineteen days.