A True Friend

A Priceless Pearl

On the March of 1976, Tanya Brown was informed of the death of her best friend. She was broken-hearted and overcome with tearful emotions.

"I'm very sorry for your loss," said Dr. Peterson. "We tried to do everything we could…," he continued - his voice sounding very low. "It just wasn't meant to be," he finished.

Unable to hold back her resentment at his words of consolation, she turned towards the double doors of the hospital corridors and fled past the reception room and out in to the warm, tangible air. There, she tumbled her helpless body upon the cold stone ground and sinking her head in to her hands, she sobbed and sobbed.

This is Tanya's recount of the death of her dearest friend and loving soul mate.

Life is filled with surprising events. They are sometimes rejoicing and other times, they are painful yet each one carries an important lesson to be learnt. You see, when a person is afflicted with news of glad tidings, he or she marvels at this and has a natural gratification and contentment embedded deep within their locked heart but when news of a sad occurrence arrives, then this penetrates the heart and the individual is overwhelmed by a sense of emptiness. This emptiness I too felt when Selene passed away but MY sadness was veiled by anger.

When the doctors informed me that my friend had only a fortnight to live, I felt my world turn upside down. Here was my friend, so full of energy, the 'University of Life,' bound to a bed being nursed by a stranger and unable to move without any assistance. I felt so ashamed and so utterly helpless. You see, Selene was told that she was suffering from a terminal illness which was irreversible and which had passed the stages of treatment. She was connected to a food drip and injected intravenously. The doctors told her that they were no longer able to save her. She was dying. Selene was dying and the doctors could not save her. This was my anger.

I would visit Selene every day and some nights, I would remain with her taking her flowers and the finest assortment of chocolates. We would both sit for hours and talk, reminiscent of our collective experiences. I would tell her about all the times she made me laugh and she would tell me about my sense of humour (or its lack thereof).

She was my inspiration. I was her motivation.

She was my aspiration. I was her encouragement. We kept each other going, I think.

Time passed us by so fast until there was only twenty-four hours remaining to Selene's existence. My world sank fast as the disease deteriorated her condition further and made her weaker. She was just able to speak some words and then would become tired. She would pause, then resume again.

That day was peculiar, not because it was our final meeting, but because I had somehow accepted Selene's dying and this made me feel frustrated. No, not frustrated, it made me feel resentful towards my own feelings. How had I come to live with the fact that tomorrow, Selene would no longer be with me… but that I would?

On my arrival at the hospital, I did not want to venture any further. I almost felt that I could go on home and not have to face this tragedy but then that was cowardice. She needed me the most at this time and my turning away would simply be a foolish denial of the reality.

As I entered upon her, my teary eyes fell upon a cold, stale, fragile figure crouched on the side of a dingy bed with so much longing. Our eyes met. My heart was filled with a hope that Selene would miraculously survive and we would both go on that world tour that we had promised each other. It would be the Middle East to start with and then the Americas.

But would it?

"Hey…," she finally whispered.

"Hi, Sel. You seem perky today," I untruthfully uttered.

"Yeh," she boldly chuckled.

Selene was no amateur. She was in full contact with the effects of her condition from its very start and she knew what today meant. She was braver than I. I felt jealous.

It was quiet as I sat there beside her bed. It was not the usual conversation. That had stopped for a few days now as the disease had worsened. The only sound was the rain hitting against the window pane, 'Pitter, patter…" and then the occasional groan from Selene. I was trying to drown all this reality. It was too hard. I tried to make some conversation and with no luck, I eventually gave up.

Evening soon fell and I had remained seated in my position for the entire day. I would not leave Selene, not even for a moment. It would mean that I had abandoned her. So I continued to sit and I felt awful because I felt as though I was waiting for death to come and take her. But this was not what I really felt. I hated death. It was far too painful.

Then, the moment entered upon us, the one which haunts me each terrible night. A small groan and beads of perspiration trickling down her cheeks and neck, her eyes closing tightly and then with great difficulty, trying to open but failing to. The piercing pain was penetrating Selene's body and then resounding.

A moment later… she died. It had clenched her soul and clenched my friend. Death had come at its appointed time.

She had died that day and I felt satisfied that I was there with her but I felt angry that I was so helpless. I'm truly sorry Sel; I miss you so very much.

They say that when a person loses their loved one, they soon learn to live with this. Not I. I know they are liars. I still pray that each day that I see the sun rising, that Sel could too see it rise. Maybe she does, from up above. I wish I could see it from there too.

Written in 2008 by S. Aish