In long-term relationships, the past always remains relevant.
A group of men were talking about death. (At our age, every conversation gets around to death, sooner or later.) Ralph Milton glanced at me, and said, “Bob Hatfield.” And I knew what he meant.
More than ten years ago, Ralph and I drove to Cochrane, Alberta, for a last visit to our friend Bob Hatfield, dying of leukemia. Bob was emaciated, skin and bones. But he was not afraid. We spoke. We held hands. We shared a prayer, for him and for each other.
Bob quoted Vera Lynn: “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when...” His voice trailed off.
I don’t know what Bob believed about life after death. As a medical doctor, he had seen death often enough to have no romantic delusions about winged cherubs hovering above an abandoned body.
But he believed that conversations did not have to end. He believed that our conversation would carry on, even without him,.
Bob died the next day.
And Bob but he was right. Our conversation with him still continues.