Monday, March 7, 2011

Dude... Just. Chill.

One of the most classic friends of my life had quite a way with words. It didn't matter what the situation was; there was always an anecdote. Some were cliches, some euphemisms, some movie quotes, and some were just plain Lynwood-isms.

Many times, it wasn't what Lynwood said, but his timing and tone that were most effective. (And which inevitably led me to a burst of giggles that could hardly be stopped, but that's probably another blog.)

The day before Lynwood died, my very OCD, blatantly-uncomfortable-around-sickness ex-boyfriend* was helping Lynwood's wife out by staying with him for a few hours while she took care of some things. Lynwood was in Hospice care, and we all knew from his medical caretakers that he didn't have much longer to live. He did, however, still have his sense of humor, even if he had to croak it out through a strained and painful whisper.

The day Mr. OCD sat with him, though, there was apparently some trouble with Lynwood getting a sip of water when he needed it. The friend sitting with him hemmed and hawed over how to make the water-getting work without putting L'wood in more pain. Helping him drink straight from the cup didn't work. Then helping him get the straw bent properly didn't work. Rearranging pillows to adjust Lynwood's position didn't work. Then the idea of putting an ice cube on his lips was too much.

The guy was about to call a nurse when finally, in Lynwood's final hours of life, he warily looked in his friend's direction, stared at him with weak but deadpanned eyes, and strained to whisper something too faint to understand. The friend leaned in, apologetically asking Lynwood to repeat it. Again, it was too faint. Finally, the message came through very clearly: "Dude.... Just. Chill."

The day of L'wood's funeral, the guy I used to date told this story to an intimate group of our friends, and my eyes stopped tearing up long enough from a life cut too short by the monster of cancer to laugh so hard that I started crying for much more hilarious reasons.

All I could think -- and I'm pretty sure I said that day -- was, there is no telling how many times Lynwood had said those very words to that guy during their friendship. That how-hard-can-I-make-life, I'll-try-so-hard-it-becomes-pointless, stupidly wandering but incredibly dedicated friend of his.

My ex-boyfriend wasn't the only one with issues that Dr. Vinson so kindly addressed for us. The things I vividly remember Lynwood saying to me with that deadpanned stare had to do with accepting things that Lynwood tried to do for or give me throughout the time we knew each other. And convincing me to believe the positive things he told me others thought about me. And telling me that despite what I thought of myself, I really was better than my own perceptions.

I admittedly am not sure L'wood wasn't just being nice most of the time, since I surmise he was a little softer on me for whatever reason. Maybe it was my being a girl, or the shorter length of time we'd been friends.

But still.

Sometimes, in a very scary moment, I'll occasionally find my ex-boyfriend's paranoid relationship views becoming contagious and wanting me to adopt them. (Yikes.) Thankfully, that's when L'wood's strained, sarcastic and hoarse whisper from a room I wasn't even in at the time reminds me, also: "Dude... Just. Chill."

And for those few minutes, I take a deep breath, and remember what life, and love, and beauty, and time are all about. I remember that crazy wonderful man's motto of "don't wait," and that he knew what he was talking about.

And I try to remember just how important it is to, well, just chill.

* Disclaimer: I blogged nothing I haven't said (and still wouldn't say) to the guy I used to date. And nothing that a million of our friends haven't said to both of us at some point. So, for the record, no backhanded bashing here. :-)

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