A friend of James emailed me. He asked how James was doing because he hadn't seen him in a while. When James could still drive, he would drive up and meet his bike club friends at the coffee shop on the Pacific Coast where they stop after the club ride every Saturday.
I replied to his email, "James is very sick. We are home every week-end in the afternoon. Stop by sometime. He is only good for a couple of hours."
That very week-end, Fred and Mark came by after their bike ride. They have been friends for 28 years. A house that sometimes has a omen of death came to life. After a few minutes with his friends, James looked as if he had just won a stage of the Tour de France. He sat taller, spoke with animation and for a couple of hours he was a healthy, competitive, muscular and strong bike-racer again.
I suppose it is uncomfortable to visit someone who has terminal cancer. But the conversation never got maudlin. It was all guy and gear talk. Sure James was tired when they left, but he was also more alive.
A week later, his two friends showed up again with two more friends. They even brought their own lunch, pizza for James, their own drinks and beer to make it easier for me. I would have happily fed a house full of true friends. That day, the balance of life to death shifted back to life on top.