When I was told that my best friend would be coming home to hospice care, everything else going on in my life stopped, just like that. I knew it was coming. I had for awhile now but I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered was her. All that mattered was that my friend of 43 years was going to be leaving this world and nothing was going to stop me from being there with her.
My camera is always with me. Those who know me well, know this. It’s an extension of me. It’s also my security blanket, my safety net, my comfort. While at the hospital visiting her just before she came home, as my heart was just beginning to start it’s first cracks, I asked her softly, “Do you want me to document this journey for you?”. She didn’t even hesitate with her answer. Yes.
We were told at first she had a month. The day after she came home and the doctor from hospice came to see her we were then told she probably had two weeks and I felt that crack in my heart widen and deepen. Her core group of girlfriends, her confidants, her ‘besties’ all came to be with her. We rallied around her hospital bed, talking softly and gently, holding her hand, telling her we love her until we tired her out and she asked to rest.
For the next twenty four hours there was a constant parade of people coming to see her, touch her, tell her how much she meant to them. Even though she no longer responded to us, I know she heard us, knew we were there. As much as I wanted to pull my camera out, I didn’t. It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until the early morning hours when those most important to her began to gather around her because we knew her time with us would be over soon, very soon, that I allowed myself to capture this moment. Right then, right there, the love in that room was so palpable that I could feel it enveloping all of us. It was her love, coming to us, touching us, kissing us goodbye. It was, quite simply, the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed. Even though the crevasse in my heart has given way to a great big gaping hole, I am so grateful for those final moments with her. What a gift she has given me.
God speed, my friend. I love you more than you can possibly know.
Alejandra Wong, January 20th, 1963 – August 21st, 2011