10. Waiting

To everything there is a season. There is so much more to share about those early conversations with Nook, our reunion, and the future we are both so excited about sharing, but there’s an external factor that kept us from meeting that needs sharing.

Nook and I realised that we had to meet, in person, at least once.  After such a long history behind us, and so many conversations electronically, we both felt that it would be a shame if we never had the opportunity to have a cup of coffee (at Starbucks) or share a laugh in person.

After we started emailing again at the end of 2009, Nook asked me if I was ever passing through her area.  I travel every now and then for my work, and it wasn’t impossible that I might come close enough to where she was living at the time that we couldn’t grab that coffee.

At the start of 2010, we both knew that meeting was something we’d both very much like to do.  Without giving away any “spoilers” it was something we knew we had to do.

I did not have any specific travel plans via her region, but, I was willing to make a special trip, or a diversion on another planned trip.

However, that external factor I allude to above meant that I couldn’t schedule anything.

You see, a friend and colleague of mine was diagnosed with cancer in the autumn of 2009.  It was a particularly aggressive type of cancer, and the prognosis was not good.  He could choose to take an equally aggressive course of chemotherapy, which might extend his life 7-8 months, and likely cause a lot of pain and discomfort along the way, or, he could choose not to have the chemo, and spend his time with his wife and children on his own terms, and on a timescale of his choosing, whilst drastically shorter.

He chose the latter.

A decision I truly respected, even admired, despite its difficulty.  As hard as it must have been, it was the decision that he made with his entire family.

I wrote a letter to him, expressing my deepest respect for all he has contributed to those we work with, for the incredible influence he had upon all of us, and for this most difficult of decisions.

My letter touched both he and his family, and as the end of 2009 approached, I was asked by him to give a eulogy at his funeral service.

A deeper honour I can never receive.

Naturally, I could not and would not decline.  He, his wife, and his children were all very glad to hear I agreed to this.  Whilst this website may not truly reflect it, Nook has pointed out that I have some “wordsmithery” talents which others can appreciate.

So now I was faced with two intense experiences.  Contrasting.  One might even say diametrically opposed.  If you’re a Freudian, Eros versus Thanatos.

As my colleague’s time with us was growing shorter and shorter, I knew I was not able to make any plans to travel.  He had ceased talking of months, but instead, of days.

And so I had to wait to meet Nook.

Even acknowledging this, now, is painful.

I had to wait for a friend to die before I could live.

I am not the first to experience that, nor shall I be the last.  I truly hope no one who reads this ever finds themselves in that deeply profound position.

My friend and colleague passed away at the end of January 2010.  I spoke my words at his service before several hundred people.  I received deep, strong hugs from his wife and children.  I cried.  I mourned.

But my waiting was over.