A great friend is seriously ill. More than a friend, he's a spiritual father. For many years, I have leaned on his steadfast wisdom.
I love him dearly; but I am not a family member. Therefore, I am not privy to his prognosis. His immediate family only knows me as one of the flock who look up to him. I don't know if he is dying or suffering a debilitating setback.
I visit his bedside several times a weak. Some days he smiles and calls me by name. Sometimes he just smiles. Sometimes he sleeps. He wears restraints and lies in a quiet room, often alone.
When awake, his eyes are peacefully alert. He listens to me and answers some simple questions with a word or two, a nod, a smile, a rolling of the eyes--his sense of humor intact. Then he speaks. The words are soft, a mix of full phrases that drift into one another often meaninglessly.
I feel selfish. I desperately miss his booming voice, his book suggestions, his birding stories, his insights into my own heart. I miss his self. I wonder if he is missing his self as well.
Yet, he is still here, and I will still be there as long as he is.
This is age. This is illness. This is life.