6 Months to Live

Sarah, my friend Sean's new girlfriend, casually informed me a few nights ago that she is dying. She said it with such a laissez faire attitude I thought I hadn't heard her correctly, but she continued on, "The doctors say I have about six months, but they have been saying that since I was eighteen. I am getting worse though."

I have only known Sarah for two weeks. Before that I was living in a Sarah-less world. I am not prepared to go back to that Sarah-less world in six months or really six years for that matter.

The conversation started because she is moving back to CT (she hails from close to my hometown). "How can you DO that?" I asked her. "How can you go back there?" At first she shrugged and tried to tell me that she was not a "city girl." But she clearly loves Sean and wouldn't leave him unless something was wrong. And being me, I pressed her. "I'm dying," she told me, "And it isn't fair to my parents that every time I end up in the hospital, which is more and more often, they have to drive three hours to see me."

What's not fair to parents is to watch their 26 year old daughter die. Right there. That's injustice on an epic fucking level. Driving three hours to watch happen slowly is just cruelty heaped upon epic injustice.

And how is it while she is dying, she can be selfless enough to think of her parents? If I was dying, I wouldn't be moving home. I'd go to France, Italy, Russia. I'd go back to Palm Beach, Las Vegas, and Mexico. I'd probably give up reading altogether. Would I bother to watch a movie? I'm not sure. But I wouldn't go back home until I didn't have too much of a choice. I'd rather collapse having a margarita in Cancun while surrounded by adoring Mexican boys (Tony where are you my love?) than be little Nell.

And this, mind you, isn't how the world is supposed to work. When I finally meet a person I can stand to talk to for more than twenty minutes, they aren't supposed to be, as my friend Anne likes to say, "on the express check out lane." I want to give her twenty years of my life, and say "Here, we'll share." That way at least we can both make it to 50.

"I'm on valium" she said as she raised her glass, "all kinds of medication on which you are not supposed to drink." I suppose she wanted me to stop her. Warn her. But I know what it's like to be on that cliff. How exactly can I stop her? Don't do that, you'll die? The dangerous part of being in that spot is there no threat-after all what is there to be afraid of? What can really stop you?

I knew my father was dying when he ordered a martini in front of me. Five years dry ( or the appearance of dry to me) and suddenly he orders his signature drink in a restaurant. And I knew what it meant. It meant "Since I am on my way out, I might as well enjoy myself." He died only two months later.When he put in his order, I didn't stop him. I didn't even give him a questioning look. We both knew what it meant.

"Do you think Sean will be faithful to me?" Sarah asked. The girl is dying, and she is worried about her boyfriend being faithful to her. I guess it is re-assuring that there are some constants to the universe. "I've never seen Sean be the way he is with you," I told her. "Good," she replied "My last fiance left when he found out I was dying. Told me it would be easier for him to mourn me as a friend than as a wife."

We sat there sipping our drinks. I had a meeting the next day, and so I had to leave. I didn't want to, but I didn't want to show up like Keith Richards either. I wasn't expecting us to have such a close bonding session. I wanted to hug her or do something for her, but she waived at me. "Don't worry" she said "I'll be in the city every weekend. I'll see your around."

"Yeah" I thought as I crossed the street "I'll see you around."

If you had six months to live, what would you do? Get married? Try and finish your novel? Go to Bali? Swim with sharks?

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