I sat two times next to my friend Michelle as she lay dying in a hospital bed at my friend's house, my arm poked through the metal bars of the side rail so that I might better hold her smooth, cool hand that lay curled up near her shoulder. I have never sat near someone who was once so alive yet lay, with labored breathing, her mouth slack and eyelids closed, smooth, so near death. She was at once a gorgeous woman, yet strong for what she had endured, how she had loved, her face softened by time and a baby, watched over, each breath, my finger at her wrist, her pulse beating. We are all so alive I thought, bent over her, so incredibly alive. Michelle died yesterday morning with her family breathing around her, with the house containing all the love one could possibly imagine holding them all.
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.