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Reconnecting With an Old Friend

Knowing that you will die in the near future gives you, and those you love, the opportunity to reconnect.

Photo of William Carroll
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My wife's mother, Patty, died from complications of multiple sclerosis in our home while on Sutter Care at Home hospice in 2007 at the age of 82.  For most of her adult life she was best friends with Jean.  They played golf and bridge together, went dancing and to dinner, and were fast friends.  Then, about 5 years before Patty died, they had a falling out.  They had not spoken since.  No one, not her adult children nor her other friends, ever knew why, but everyone thought it had to have been something large to break such a strong and continuous bond.  As Patty moved closer to death, but before she became unaware of her surroundings, her son, Rod, asked her if she would like to speak with Jean, who lived in a different region of the country.  Patty said "yes," the first step in a process of repairing a fractured friendship.  Rod called Jean, who confirmed she would like to speak again with Patty.  There were many tears as Patty spoke on the telephone to Jean for the first time in 5 years.  Other conversations followed before Patty's death, which came peacefully with her adult children, son-in-law and grandchildren at her side.   The broken friendship Patty had with Jean had been an unresolved emotional black hole for her, and it was finally resolved before she died.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Knowing that death is coming in the near term is frightening. But it gives us an opportunity to reconnect with lost friends, to say "I love you," and "I'm sorry." There is real power in that.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a physician-- an internist-- and chief medical executive in the Sutter system.

If you participated in an End of Life Storytelling Event, tell us which Chapter or city you came from:

Santa Rosa

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Photo of James Takayesu

Great post William.  Death can make us realize the futility holding grudges and maintaining conflict in our lives.  This energy is better focused on living and moving forward with those we love, mending ties that are important and make us whole.  Thinking of our mortality and the evanescence of life in the present, even if not on our immediate radars, can help bring conflict into perspective.  Thank you.

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