It's been a week since the memorial. It was two weeks ago when I last talked to her. I think I am ready to talk about it; but I will never be ready to accept it. Kind of counterproductive in the reality department, don't ya think?
One cannot die from multiple sclerosis. That's what they tell us, but I believe these words less and less. Ironically her last words to me were " Love you.Thanks for all the goodies!" My last words to her were "we don't do this." Real inspirational, huh? I didn't know what else to say to her. I didn't know this was my last opportunity to visit with her.
At the memorial service, her family did not wish for anyone besides the pastor to speak. I respect that decision and am actually glad for it. There were so many people there. We had to mourn in our own way. I need to talk about her now, though. She was my friend and little sister; related not in blood but in an age-old bond developed when I was dating her brother years ago. The romance collapsed, but the friendship remained. I became a second daughter in her family. When I went away to college her parents would drop her off to spend a weekend with me sometimes when they traveled out of state to visit their oldest son at his respective college. We had our own age appropriate friends but always managed to seek one another's approval before making life altering decisions. We held hands in church when the spirit moved us and when she wasn't accompanied by her most recent paramour. We stood up for one another at our first weddings.
We were diagnosed within a year of one another. I landed in the hospital for several days and spent an entire summer rebuilding myself. My students created a beautiful hand painted cane for me that was quickly set aside as unnecessary. She learned to maneuver a walker and then graduated to a wheelchair. She sought a variety of professional opinions and experimented with the absence of needles. I remained on my Beta Seron for eleven years before deciding that life was too short to feel so lousy and at the mercy of an experimental drug; I quit cold turkey. She could no longer always feed herself and no longer attended her son's baseball games. I stopped calling and visiting; at a loss for words and guilty that I could still walk on my own steam. I kept in contact through her family, but was not as readily available as I needed to be. Why did I separate myself from the one person who would understand and with which I shared so much?
And now, of course, it is too late. I am the lucky one, I have been told. I can still walk. I can take care of my family. I can still work and drive my car. I have been blessed.
Yes, I agree, even if I do not understand. I see what she went through. All that she had to endure and I hang my head in shame that I could not use one ounce of my blessings to help her fight this thing that "we do not do". I cannot share these thoughts with my family and I have not and will not disclose the details of her death with my son. husband, or even my own mother. It is too real. It is enough to make me want to pack it in, leave my job, head for the hills, and hide away for the remaining days of my own life. In the face of death, we should not be expected to spend our days doing anything short of enjoying our loved ones and living life "large".
I have been blessed. I had an incredible friend. And in her honor, I will do this thing.