We were finally able to visit him last night. It has been less than a year since he was a typically healthy 40-something year old man supporting a large family. A cancer diagnosis changed all that. They have done all the treatments and they aren't working. He's accepted that his time is limited. His family threw him a poker party last night, one of many game nights they host every year. We were finally able to go, and my emotions are all over the place. The guilt of not having been able to go see him before this that was weighing on me - at least that is gone. We don't see them more than once a year normally because they don't live near us, but still, I wanted to do more, to help somehow. I have have felt completely unable to do so. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get there in time.
The game night was just like any other game night- plenty of food and laughs and cheer. But. The tightness of his wife's face and voice betrayed everything. People can be so strong when they have to be. I'm sometimes in awe of humanity.
The same day, we also went to another friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah. It was a very lovely and moving ceremony. I'm sure they are super proud of her.
It was a whole day of seeing old friends. These are all people we have known for decades. We met them back when almost none of us had kids, and parties could last until 10 the next morning, and our dogs were our babies and our lives revolved around them. Then most of them were raising (human) babies and there were many parties that were dominated by toddlers and going home early for bed times, and now some of those babies are now out on their own, as grown up people.
We moved away from the area, but we still try to go back and see everyone once a year or more. Or they come visit us at Thanksgiving. Most are vanilla, but some of them are in our kink community circle as well.