Wednesday, August 3, 2011
My friend, Sheila, and me taken a few years ago
I have always been strong. I've had to be. I am stoic by nature, roll with the punches, take life as it comes, but underneath the facade, I am a fixer. I worry needlessly about my kids and grandkids, but deep in my heart, I know I don't need to. God will take care of them. Bad things will befall them, good things will come unexpectedly. Life happens to all of us; death comes to each of us.
Throughout my life, I have lost so many friends and loved ones, and each time, I have picked myself up and moved forward. Tonight I am profoundly sad. My best friend, Sheila, who is in remission from brain cancer is terminal. She has been "terminal" for twenty years. We recently learned that none of the medical professionals expected her to live this long. No one with her kind of tumor survived past a couple years. She's made medical history.
I have witnessed her steady decline over the years. Some days her speech is garbled, and it is difficult for her to process and respond and communicate. She was released from the hospital today (she was in over the weekend with a urinary tract infection) and as of today she will be at home receiving hospice care. I just spoke with her. We expressed our love and friendship for one another, and I grunted a hug through the phone, across the miles and into her ear. She won't remember talking to me. In fact while we were talking, her husband said, "The dog missed you while you were gone," and she replied, "I don't care about that. I was at Linda's."
I laughed out loud. "Yes you were!" I assured her. "And we had fun."
If she only realized how much she IS with me.
Our shared memories go back forty-two years. We were next door neighbors in a tiny, rural Alaska town. We were kids, newlyweds, expectant mothers, and we regarded ourselves as the only 'normal' army wives there. Even when we had to part and return to our home towns, we stayed connected through email letters; those red and blue edged, onion skin envelopes carried a week's worth of baby brags and marriage woes across country. When we could afford it we telephoned long distance. When I went through divorce I didn't go to a marriage counselor. I flew to visit her for a week and read aloud my angst filled poetry. I sat at her kitchen table admiring her china cabinet filled with cobalt blue glassware. And we shared our secrets. We got each other through births, life and death. And here we go again.
Her husband said the doctor told him she has weeks, perhaps months, but her time is tick, tick, ticking ... and I am so DAMNED MAD AT THAT TIME BOMB.