On a warm, misty morning several years ago, following the first recurrence of my best friend’s cancer, we sat in our jammies, opposite sides of the sofa with toes touching under a blanket, holding steaming cups of coffee, and pondering what lay ahead.
“ I don’t know what’s coming this time, “ she said, “but I’m so glad we’ll be futuring together.” We giggled at a word that so aptly described who we are to one another. Whatever was to come would come to the both of us. We were, and will always remain, a spectacular team.
As this memory popped up a few days ago, I googled the word “futuring” to see if it was a real word. It is, indeed. It means carefully using forethought to plan and direct actions.
Then I REALLY giggled. You see, my sister-friend was one of the least “plan-ahead” people on the face of the Earth. Futuring was more my role. I was the more “grounded”, strategic one of the pair.
Which brought me to the true word that defines Terri…..Adventuring.
She and I, best of friends since the age of 16, spent over 40 years of friendship living adventures on a daily basis. Terri had an indominable sense of spontaneity, fun, and whimsy. There was no conversation, including some of the most intense ones of our lives, that we couldn’t end with belly-busting laughter.
Our sisterhood was formed and grew on the shared belief in the goodness of the world, and that adventures were always waiting to be had.
If one of us said, “We need an adventure,” it meant a trip needed to be planned ASAP and shenanigans were on the way.
We would end phone calls by saying, “And what adventures are you going to have today?” to remind us to have a sense of joy in all we did.
Our adventures could be a trip to TJ Maxx or a trip to see a broadway play. It didn’t matter what the event was, what mattered was the intention of joy and excitement in all.
In true yin/yang fashion, she would light the spark, and I would make the plans.
There were times when my “futuring” mind would drive her nuts. “Why are you always THINKING so much?”
And there were times when I wished her adventures could be a bit more thought-out (her tardiness was the stuff of legends).
And the balance, the magical marriage of our friendship, worked. For over 4 decades, it worked.
One night, as she lay in hospice, I began the daunting task of going through her personal belongings. The futuring part of my soul was frustrated, almost angry.
After a 4 year journey with cancer, the end was not a surprise. Despite the constant belief in miracles and magic, the end did not sneak up on us.
How had she not prepared? How had she not even begun the task of setting precious items aside for her boys? Starting with her jewelry, I set things aside into separate piles. I would see a ring she loved, and imagine it being given to a future daughter-in-law. I held her grandmother’s engagement ring, and could envision one of the boys giving it to his daughter one day. I sorted and itemized, and honestly, stewed a bit. Why was I the one doing this job? Couldn’t she have “futured” just a little bit more?
The following morning I brought in several items for her to look at and guide me on how to preserve. She laughed and said, “Oh, you figure it out, you’re good at that planning ahead stuff.” Well, we knew each other’s strengths, that’s for sure!
Two days later, slowly slipping further away, we were obviously beginning the phase of her becoming in and out of “consciousness”.
I greeted her with a hug, and as always, asked, “What adventures should we have today?” She grinned and giggled as she slipped into sleep.
What followed for the next several hours was perhaps the greatest adventure of our lives together. I wish I could have been inside her head, her spirit that day, but all I know is that every time she woke up, she existed in some aspect of her past. Once she woke up enough to ask me if I had bottles made for the baby (her boys are adults). Another time she asked me if I could get her favorite stuffed animal from childhood. I was reminded to feed her first dog. She drifted in and out of “sleep” all day, and with each awakening she existed in different time frame of her life. Her previous house. The dorm at college. Had I picked up my maid-of-honor shoes yet (and, honestly, were they ugly? In case you’re wondering, they were hideous). It went on all day. We relived all of the major moments of her life, one chapter at a time. I drifted in and out of each time and place with her, speaking to her from the reference point of where she was at that moment, grateful I’d been a part of it all, and could be fully present with her.
I can’t imagine a greater adventure, to relive one’s life with them one last time, because you’d had the honor of being in it all along.
And then she was gone.
As with any good partnership, it is the conglomeration of strengths that builds the whole. We “wore off” on each other through the years, sharing our spirit and perspectives. Between the two of us we had it all covered. The planner and the dreamer.
That was us.
The one who remembered to future, and the one who ceaselessly adventured.
The one who grounded, and the one who flew free.
The one who remains, and the one who is having the greatest adventure of all.
We are all a little bit of each, futurer and adventurer. The true magic of life is in the balance…the knowing when to plan, and the knowing when to throw the plans out the window. The steady and the saucy, the centered and the whirling romantic.
May we each find and admire the perfect balances in the ones we love, as well as in ourselves.
Here’s to planning great adventures.