This started as a Ten Things of Thankful post, I aimed to weave a tale of positivity, one that showed triumph amongst odds. By triumph, I mean losing over ten pounds in a week; by odds, I mean, the completely filled refrigerator that sits in my kitchen for the 12 hours a day that I’m at home and awake.
My message quickly turned to something much different and more somber, mainly not so Thankful.
I think we all have that friend who is from a different stage in your life, yet when you pick up the phone, you can talk for hours. Life has changed so much, you may not be able to talk every day, week or month, but your thoughts are there and when you’re near, seems like you never missed a day. I have a few of these.
As I was scrolling through Facebook, one of these friend’s names popped up in my feed as a share from a mutual friend… this post mentioned that prayers were being sent her way. A couple of months had passed since we last spoke, so I sent her a text to see what was going on. The response:
“Michelle had a seizure last Tuesday and is unconscious ~ Husband”
What? Where do you go from there? Whatever was going on, I didn’t want to bother him. Her youngest is the same age as my little Butterfly and I’m sure he’s fielding questions and busy raising his children.
So, I reached out to our mutual acquaintance from the Facebook post who, at the time, responded that she was on the way to the hospital and she would get back to me when she returned. I waited anxiously 3000 miles away, on the opposite coast for details. The follow-up message was:
“Sorry to inform you April, she passed away early this morning.”
My heart dropped. My mind started spinning. Didn’t I just talk to her not too long ago? A month? Two? Three? I check my phone, which dated our last phone conversation a year ago. But I know that wasn’t the last time we chatted. Well, I was pretty sure.
I checked my email. There it was: our last conversation was by email for my birthday. We exchanged updated pictures of our children, talked about my former job (the company for which she worked), and our extended families.
Five months. That was all. Just five months ago, she seemed healthy and happy, only to find out something happened and took her life in such a short amount of time.
I called my former boss. She had to have some details. I still didn’t want to bother the family.
Here’s the short of it: My friend found out she had stage 4 brain cancer on July 1st. She was given 6 months to live. Because of her great response to treatment, her life expectancy was extended to a year and a half. She had one seizure that started to put this new timeline in doubt, only to be confirmed by the second seizure from which she never regained consciousness.
I have not been able to contain my emotions. Guilt for being unaware that anything was wrong. Anger for not living closer. Sadness for losing a friend. Emptiness for knowing I wouldn’t have her in my life anymore.
She was such a truly beautiful person, inside and out. She took time to listen to you, pray with you and make you smile. She remembered birthdays and special occasions. She was one of the few people that could sense something was wrong and willing to take time out of her day to engage you. She loved her family and her friends. She was an amazing human being.
For the last two weeks, I have broken down into tears on several occasions. But who am I? I’m a friend, but one who hasn’t spoken to her in five months. I won’t be effected by this loss. I didn’t lose a wife or a mother.
I didn’t even know. That alone breaks my heart. I wasn’t there for her. I am not close enough to go to her services. There’s almost nothing that I can do, except send flowers and a card to the family.
Have you been here? Have you struggled with the guilt of not being there?