Liminal Space – standing in the doorway, in between two spaces; not in one place or the other; waiting to move forward to the ‘next’ thing
Today was a liminal space sort of day. My friend who is dying from ovarian cancer held her daughter’s recital this afternoon. Her daughter sang very well, beautiful voice and was quite composed. Most of the women in the room shed more than a few tears. I didn’t. It’s not that I don’t feel the sadness of it all, the bittersweet taste that lingers far after the event is over almost chokes me. This week I’ve watched her say goodbye to two people. Both are leaving until the fall and thinking she will be here when they return is not realistic. She is in a liminal space and many of us are there with her. But as a person of faith, I know what is in front of her is far more reassuring than what is in front of the rest of us.
I have never been this close to a person who is dying. I am asked on a regular basis, “how is she?” In my head I sometimes scream “SHE IS DYING!!!!” but I never say it, instead I offer the platitudes people want to hear, “she’s doing well, holding on, hoping for the best.”
Per her request, I no longer ask her how she is feeling or tell her she looks good. She never feels good, just a 1 – 10 sliding scale of pain and looking good is a truly pointless comment. She’d trade one head for two if it meant her cancer would be gone.
Tomorrow is her birthday. 43. It will most likely be her last one. She hopes to make it to June 4, her son’s birthday. She is ready, some days, to move from the liminal space. Other days, she is not.
I pray that when she leaves this liminal space, the rest of us have the courage to do so as well. And so, we pray.