One thing I've learned from facing the slow, lingering death of a loved one is that no one can give you a roadmap for that journey. Even people who've been through it can only offer you limited advice because everyone faces death in their own way. What brought comfort to one person's dying relative might not work in your situation. You've got to play it by ear. I was lucky enough, when I was assisting my father's long, protracted death from cancer, that I had a friend who could not only "play it by ear", but could play it like a Stradivarius.A bit of background: my father was a life-long Red Sox fan. While we lived all over the world during his Army career, whether in Alaska or Germany, he always followed the Red Sox. When he was diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer in 2003, he faced it like an Army Colonel and West Point grad -- with stoicism and a stiff upper lip.Finally, he told the family the source of his strength. He said: "I've made a pact with God. He can't take me until the Red Sox win the World Series. At the very least, I've got a lot of years ahead of me."
Then came the miracle season of 2004. The Red Sox just kept doing better and better, sweeping game after game. We asked repeatedly if he was a little nervous, but Dad said, "Don't worry, the Sox always blow it in a heartbreaker at the end."
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