Absent Friends

Blog Post

(captioned and pictured above, a view of the inside of the Interpol General Secretariat, Lyon, France)

There are some previous posts that I would direct you to in your reading. Maybe you never read it or maybe you forgot it. One such involves my dear, departed friend, know on this blog simply as CH. (READ MORE HERE)

I learned more about China and the Chinese people from CH than from anyone else. He loved both China and its people, though the government was a hostile foreign power. And in these days of plague and tension with China, I often reflect on those quiet lessons that I learned about the place just by watching him.

CH had been a serving Army officer, a colonel, and I was younger and had been Navy, a lieutenant commander – however CH considered me to be somewhat of a trained killer, which he had not been. We started in different places in life and met on the road.

(above, LL speaking at the Interpol General Secretariat, below, CH)

CH was one of those co-workers that I naturally got along with. I knew his family, his sons, and his history. I traveled around the planet working with CH and so our relationship was an easy one.

I think that there was some point on this blog (previously) where I described a discussion that we had, and I think that it was when we were both at the Interpol General Secretariat (Lyon, France). At this Easter season, perhaps it is worth repeating.

We sat on a park bench, eating sandwiches sold on a cart near the General Secretariat, overlooking the Somme, and he told me, “You know, LL, when I had that heart attack, I died.” CH had a severe heart attack possibly two years previously.

“And I’m telling you this because one of these days, I’m going to have another one and it may finish me. Anyway, I was there on the operating table and I died. And I looked down at my body, with the doctors and nurses working on me. I knew that I was dead, and yet, I couldn’t be completely dead because I was aware of what happened and was watching it all. At the same time, I knew that I had a decision to make. I could go back into my body and live on, or I could move on. And I made a conscious decision to live – for a while – in this old body.

“I’m telling you this so you don’t grieve when I die. And I’m also sharing this so that you will understand that dying isn’t an unpleasant feeling at all. It happens and in my case, I came back for a season.

“Just be who you are and not who or what the world wants you to be, LL.”

sic transit gloria mundi

16 thoughts on “Absent Friends

  1. Easy to ponder having three weeks of leisure and another three week to go (hopefully that’s all). My snow has been keeping me busy. We neighbors meet out there at shoveling time discussing current events from a distance.

    1. The world has entered a period of the surreal, Odie. No snow in AZ mountains to speak of, and I hope that Spring is on the way. I now have an industrial strength snow blower, I’m feeling a little cocky.

  2. I’ve heard of others who said much the same and they usually seem to lose their fear of dying. None of us get out of here alive.

    1. That was his point to me. He didn’t feel the slightest bit of fear and wanted to comfort me in the event that he died. He did die and I felt the warmth of his assurances.

  3. An interesting story, as always here. Plus a view to the after life and that’s something you find everyday.

    1. He went into even greater detail about what the doctors and nurses were doing and so forth. Afterward he told his experience to a nurse who he said, didn’t believe him. The disbelief didn’t bother him because it happened to him and he knew what happened.

      1. Years ago, my mom told me of her similar experience when they gave her a transfusion that had hepatitis in it.
        She told everyone what she had seen while “dead”.
        But being dead t the world is, as Miracle Max said, “Mostly dead”.
        Not ‘face the judgment” dead.

  4. Nope, none of us get out alive. That he had the option and made the choice says a lot about his willpower. May he RIP.

  5. Thank you for that story. I had not found your blog when you first post it; I’m glad that you did now.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. “Death smiles at us all and the only thing that we can do is to smile back” (the Film Gladiator)

  6. I’m glad you shared that– very glad. That last line is one for my wall of quotes. If the out of body NDE happens to everyone, it’s bizarre to imagine how many people are making that decision lately. Maybe that’s why the COVID19 fatality rate is higher for older folks… those are the ones most likely to feel like they’ve served their time.

    1. Naturally, I can’t say. Except that I believe that there is a time appointed and when your number is up, you check out. In his case, he was allowed an extension and he was happy for it.

      CH was a real gentleman.

  7. I was moved by this story, not least this, “Just be who you are and not who or what the world wants you to be, LL.”

    That’s powerful message.

    Prayers for your friend.

  8. I’m not afraid to go to sleep, knowing I might not wake up. Doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to fear death itself, either.

    Not that I have any desire to rush it, either.

    And of course, the method of it might be extremely unpleasant.

    The thing itself though… we all have to just accept it. No more point in fearing it that sunrise or sunset.

    I’ve always thought death is harder for those who have to say goodbye.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top