To say “hello” or “goodbye”?

This evening I spoke to someone who knows he will die soon. Why did I feel so strange around him? We’re all dying. Any of the rest of us could die before he does. We all have lives on earth with a beginning and an end, we just have to say “goodbye” to some before others.

My first reaction to hearing he had cancer and is dying is, “Oh, I will really be his friend, I will do my small part of making his last part of life more happy” but then something in me pulled back – hard and fast. Maybe it was because if I got to know him, and he died, there would be a profound emptiness in my life. Emptiness is what no one wants but this is such selfish thinking. Love and friendship are wonderful but it means you’re open to pain. It’s nonsensical to never say “hello” just so you don’t have to say “goodbye” because to say “hello” is to have happiness and to say “goodbye” is to remember fondly.

He’s spent much of his life abroad with missions work he did through Youth With a Mission, he studied at seminary, and he has been a pilot so although he’s had to get used to the idea of dying, he’s okay with it. He wants to be with Jesus and he’s glad he’s been able to do the things he has.

He has chosen not to take chemotherapy treatment or radiation but instead pursue some natural methods even though they give him less chance of survival. The treatment he’s chosen has not improved his health, it’s just slowing death down. He said he’s seen and heard of so many people who started chemotherapy or radiation and died instead of getting well. He didn’t want that to happen to him, he didn’t want his last days on earth to be so painful and ugly. He was surprised to hear I have been through chemotherapy and am healthy now.

My heart hurts for him and his family.


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