Our relationship began about 20 years ago - we worked together. During our work-life together she was always outspoken, candid and tough minded. We got along well even if we didn't always see eye to eye. She did not mince words or suffer fools and talked smack about people all the time. In other words - my kind of work buddy. After her retirement we continued to meet for lunch where we would inhale Italian food and gossip about people that we knew. She would love to tell long tales (although she'd often begin with "to make a long story short"). The best stories were the ones that started with "between you and me" as I knew these were particularly juicy - but not necessarily confidential. Interestingly, she loved to know details of others lives while maintaining a certain aloofness about her own.
I entered her room tonight with trepidation. She didn't know that I was coming, and she didn't know that I had figured out that she was dying . So, I was hoping she wouldn't be angry with me for coming without an invitation. But, there were others in the room, so it eased my entry. She was sitting in bed looking rather frail - but still cutting a rather imposing figure. She was trying to eat some melted ice cream and told me that they hadn't served any Italian food to her yet. She was cogent... sometimes. She would use the wrong words for objects and repeated words and phrases that didn't fit the conversation. But, during her lucid moments we laughed and she was completely aware of what was happening.
Tonight she was clothed in a hospital gown - but her nails were done a lovely soft shade of grey/brown. I had brought some very fragrant hand lotion and rubbed it into her graceful hands. She inhaled deeply; I knew she appreciated the scent, and I was happy I had thought to bring it.
As I left I leaned in for a big kiss on her cheek and told her I was ignoring her privacy issues and was going to tell people her new address. She didn't object.