Thirty-four years… thirty-four years they’ve spent together. When asked about compromises, she doesn’t quite get the word first. “Well… we just let each other be. You see, we are lucky: usually, we are on the same page. If not, then sooner or later we realize we actually like the option the other one offered. So, there is no need for compromises in the end”, she says.
I’ve known the couple for two years. R., the teen-eyed lady always smiling, and G., with his dry sense of humour. I like them. R. has craved her name in my heart when we were talking about stuff we are proud of. She listed her accomplishments – a fruitful life in all fields you can imagine – and suddenly, I saw tears behind her smile, and sensed her vulnerability. It was clear she loves her life, and is grateful for everything she has achieved. But has never thought things in this light, it dawned on me within a few minutes. And… and. It was just a blink of an eye, and we both knew. I didn’t say a word, nor did she, we just hugged each other. We have a unique bond since; I’ve been a part of a special moment of weakness and strength, she shared something deep beyond words with me.
It’s not just about R. not being aware of her accomplishents. Deep inside, fear has made its way, too. G. is teminally ill. In the last stage of cancer, actually. I slowly see this great, strong man fade away, as cancer eats his stomach and lungs. Right now, he weighs less than me, and has a hard time walking or even standing. There is no way to deny it: I see death when look at him. “He is a geat survivor”, R. says. It’s his third cancer-related illness, and I don’t know what to say when I see him struggling to breathe near the fire. In the dim light casting shadows on his face, he looks so tiny and fragile.
“You know, it’s okay if I die soon, I’ve had a great life”, he tells me, while the others are grilling the sausages a few meters away. He sounds peaceful, the epitome of awareness. “I’ve enjoyed life with all its pleasures, but held too many grudges and hurt. In the past few years, I’ve learned how to let go of them, settled all my relations, and I feel so content and free now. Some might say it’s too late as I’m dying, but I don’t think so.” I blink, as our eyes meet. “It’s never too late, and now I’m ready to go, if it’s the time to”, he adds. R. chitchats happily behind the grill-table, not knowing what the two of us are talking about. I smile and I nodd. There is no need to say anything.
The next question he pops is about S.’s and Z.’s baby who was just born two hours ago. The two of them started the evening with us before R. and G. arrived, but the waters broke around nine, so had to leave for the hospital. “Yes, she is healthy, and looks great. I hope next time she joins us, just like you do”, I say, as we both gaze into the fire, and laugh. The fire that has seen so much, and taught us even more.
Update: G. died three weeks later. R. is keeping strong.