Racing Against Time

I can’t stop thinking about a bottle of wine.

Not any bottle–the bottle Bruce and I sent our friend Pam the week before she died.  We found out that K.R. Rombauer of Rombauer Vineyards was doing a wine tasting in Omaha on March 29th. Rombauer was one of the vineyards we visited during our Napa visit with Pam in October. She picked it out, and it was one of our favorites.

We decided it would be great to get him to sign a bottle for her, and he did. He was gracious and wonderful.

We had spent the first weekend of March with Pam and knew we didn’t have time to spare. The wine tasting was on Thursday night and Bruce overnighted the bottle on Friday. When Pam got it on Saturday, she sent the following text (I can’t bring myself to delete her texts just yet):

“I GOT . . . I GOT IT!!!!!!!! In luuuuvvvvvv pitter patter: Thanku so very much friends!!!!!!!”

She displayed it on her fireplace mantel. On Sunday, April 1, she went into the hospital. She remained there until Thursday, April 5th. After spending the night at home and having in-home hospice care stop by, she decided to go into hospice on Friday, April 6th. She died on Monday, April 9th.

We drank the wine with Pam’s parents last month when they spent the weekend with us in Omaha, and toasted her. I think we’re up to toast 12,000-something by now.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what a close call that was. We wanted so badly to give her one last bit of joy from that trip, and we were so lucky it got to her in time.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this. If it has a point, I guess it’s that if you have a chance to do something for someone you care about, do it. Even if their life is approaching its end, don’t give up on them. Their capacity for joy may be the last thing to go.

And if they’re not “officially” in the last stage of life–why wait? One of my favorite quotes is from Henri Amiel, who said, “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind!” I’ve always loved that quote, but now that I’m older I finally appreciate what it means.


13 thoughts on “Racing Against Time

  1. Yes, there’s a point, but maybe not the one you originally thought. You need to write about Pam for in doing so, she is as alive to us as she was to you. Please keep sharing her beauty.
    You are a wonderful friend and I know you greatly enriched her life.


  2. Thanks for sharing this really touching story of friendship, Jackie. And I love the quote you share at the end: “Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind!” That is an excellent reminder.

  3. Jackie, this is such a poignant posting! You are an excellent friend, and you are bearing witness to Pam’s legacy. There’s a powerful lesson to be learned in your experience: be kind to your loved ones NOW, for tomorrow is promised to no one. I’m glad the bottle of wine made it on time.

  4. What a wonderful point you make to celebrate life while they’re living. I have two friends who are in their last stages, one with breast cancer, the other with ALS. With the breast cancer friend, most of those she interacts with wouldn’t dream of talking to her in plain speak about her dying. They act as if she’ll get past this and be better tomorrow. With my ALS friend, fortunately, everyone cannot deny that he’s a prisoner in his own body, but we’re all there to make him laugh (inside) and bring him humor.

    We must all keep the Golden Rule in mind and treat those who are critically ill like we hope to be treated if we’re in their shoes, and that’s just what you did with Pam.


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  6. Pingback: 525,600 Minutes | Dispatch From Second Base

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