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This morning a friend mentioned that a friend of his had died over the weekend, and he was feeling a little sad. He knew the friend was entering his last days and had asked me permission to bring this guy to our morning group, as a way to lend a little cheer to this guy’s fading life. I was a bit shocked that he thought my permission was needed, but as it turned out it was probably a good idea because a dying person is going to depress the conversation, and we should be prepared. It was stated that there was nothing we could do to add to his days, but we could give him some comfort that life was a wonderful thing to have been given to us and him and where we could enjoy, at least for a while, the wonderful things that are potentially available to us.

We all sat around a little bewildered as to what we should do or say at hearing that this potential new friend had died. Apparently, a week before, he had driven over to our coffee shop parking lot, but there were no spaces and there would be a minimum of an extra block to get here. Just this last week he had been expected again, but he had phoned G and said he wasn’t feeling up to the journey, even when being driven.

We meet every weekday morning and he died on Friday. I never met him, or perhaps I did once a year ago because he was an Air Force navigator and I did meet a guy with that background and chatted standing someplace for only a couple of minutes. Anyway, it didn’t happen in this more socially organized fashion.

Someone said the best we could have done for him was to do ordinary things and have our typical jovial conversation that would give him some comfort. While the guys were discussing those appropriate behaviors I wrote in my notebook, “A reason for living is looking forward to even a single act of helping another person. That’s a good reason for choosing to live through today’s pain and suffering” After I read that out loud, the guys were uncharacteristically silent for several moments, then D looking at me said, “That’s your job” and looking at the others said, “That’s what he does.”

I had to excuse myself and go get our coffee refills.