Friendship- a history

I first met G when our boys were in second grade. They played baseball on the same team and we would say hi and bye at the games but we didn’t really hang out, other then the small talk at the sporting events. Then when our boys were in middle school, I ran into her at an after school event. She was alone with her son, and my now ex-husband, and I were chaperoning our son to the dinner theater. The boys wanted to sit together so I invited her to sit with us. She didn’t seem exactly the same as she did back from second grade, but did any of us? It has been six years since I remember seeing her. She wore a hat, even inside, and although it was winter, something seemed off. Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t seem wrecked, or anything. She was wearing black heeled boots with black pants and a very stylish jacket. Once we were seated, my now ex, in all his political correctness, noticed she had something sticking out on her chest and asked her about it. I was embarrassed, but she took it in stride and explained that she had recently began chemotherapy and the line we could barely see was how she received her medication. I was mortified. But she didn’t seem phased. We had fun that night at the dinner theater, but it was a few months later when our boys become quite close and began hanging out nearly every weekend.

I’m embarrassed to say the next time I saw her was when she was picking her son up from my house and my dog ran out the door chasing a bicyclist and I had to stop our conversation and run after her. I don’t run, run, but I took off down the street chasing the dog with my Pajamas on and no bra. I imagine it was pretty glamorous. By the time I caught up with my dog, she had tripped up the cyclist and when I made it back to my house G and her son were gone.

A month or so later, she text me and asked me to dinner. I was shocked, honestly, as her son made it very clear he was not to give out phone numbers or really any information. But I accepted, not sure exactly what I was walking into.

The night we went to dinner was a Friday. Apparently, G had made it a point to organize a Friday evening dinner with family, and a few close friends and they met every Friday night at a local restaurant. It was really casual and fun. Looking back, I know that she must have done this as a distraction to her trauma past, but at the time it just seemed like her and a couple of girlfriends had made a weekly date to get together. Every Friday, at 530, they would meet: her, and two girlfriends, and their husbands, and children.

Dinner was fun that night, and honestly, I think we have been inseparable ever since. Well… we were. I always admired her sense of humor, and, at times, brash honesty. She made sure she saved a seat for me next to her, and at one point, during dinner, she leaned over and said, “if we’re going to be friends, you need to know that I say fuck a lot.” And I laughed and told her that I did too.

So many memories we shared together on those Friday nights. Looking back, I don’t think anything was off limits for discussion. G was the social organizer of our group then. She organized lunches, dinners, and even girls nights out that were complete with piano bars and limousines. Family trips with all of our families for the weekends. She supported me when my ex and I split and I was with her through surgeries, scans, biopsies, chemos, and hospital stays. I was the one who held her when she cried about her therapeutic break-up, after some strong encouragement from friends, and I was with her when she found the strength to read the notes her therapist wrote about her. I was the one she would call (well, text) when she was lost and I can’t tell you how many dreams, and visions, and tears we shared.

She was the first person I text in the mornings and the last person I text at night. She was my person. And I was hers. And I’d give anything to have one more cheap glass of wine with her at the corner cafe.

Not enough

I still cannot begin to understand how a whole living person can be turned into merely a photo and an inadequate collection of vague memories. It doesn’t make any kind of sense. It’s not enough, the imprint that you left behind. It’s not substantial enough, not enough to hold on to.

My need to talk to you has never been greater, nor has my disbelief in the course that our lives have taken. This is so hard.

Angel, day 3

I know that even though G’s journey on this earth has ended ours still continues. She is pain free now; no more pain and suffering. But her family and friends left on this earth are left to suffer and remember the devastation this disease wracked on her body. I am thankful that her suffering is over but I feel like mine has just begun. No matter how I try to remind myself that she will feel no more needles,  no more weakness, no more pain; I cannot help but feel devastated that I can no longer talk to her, or tell her I love her, or just “be” with her. I cannot hear her laugh, or tell me I’m chapping her ass and give me the side-eye any longer. I cannot hear her say “I love you most”.

While lying in bed the last couple of days of her life, she may not have been able to show us her true self very often, but there were times she was able to show us her spunk and sense of humor. G’s willfulness and determination is what brought her this far and carried her for so long. Even in the end, she did not want to give up. She was struggling so much and it broke my heart every time I had to watch her struggle for air. She bounced back so many times. Even to her very last breath, I believed that God would answer my prayers and heal her on this earth so that we might keep her with us.

And I keep reliving her last days over and over. When she was drawing her last breaths I felt such confusion. I understood what was happening but I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that she was actually leaving us…I still had hope that God would heal her. It all happened so very quickly. I had this feeling and I could not possibly go to sleep. Sounds strange, even to me…I still believed that God would heal her yet I had this feeling inside of me that would not let me rest. She was on so many meds and more were added for fevers and the rattle in her chest. Along with the Ativan, Benadryl and Dex it seemed as though they always giving her something. They monitored her temp almost constantly as it appeared to go up and down from minute to minute; reaching over 106 degrees and only falling below 102 occasionally. She was almost constantly moaning and because of that we finally had to continually increase her Ativan to 2 mg every three hours. They had increased her Dilaudid up to 18 mg every hour plus 6mg bumps every 6 minutes; giving her the potential to receive 78 mg of Dilaudid every hour of which we did end up doing. G’s last minutes went from labored, rattly breathing to quiet, peaceful breaths. The transition happened so quickly that we didn’t have time to even realize what was happening.

The sorrow and pain that I feel is devastating. G may “be in a better place where there is no more pain” but that doesn’t make it any easier for those she has left behind. I am thankful that she no longer has to feel the pain and suffering but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that I still had her with me.

I still cannot believe she is gone from this earth. Sometimes I can feel my insides shake with unshed tears. I wonder and am scared at what will take place after the hustle and bustle of the next couple of weeks. I know it will only get harder. I was lucky to be able to speak on the phone with my long-time therapist. She is so helpful and made herself available to me in the past week by phone and text for which I am so grateful for her support in this time. She knows how difficult this time is for me and I don’t know what I would do without that support right now. I still keep waiting for a funny text from my friend. I still keep wishing I could send her a text of, “we got this” one more time.

I miss you so much G!

Angel, day 1

I have not actually had the emotional strength to get an update done and posted; my heart just has not been with it and I will have to post more at a later time. Although G knew for many weeks her diagnosis was terminal, she never gave up hope and her spirit continued to fight. The last few days of her life were incredibly hard. As someone who loves her dearly, it was very hard to watch her pain. I cannot Imagine how hard it was to go through. I find some relief knowing she is now finally pain free. Her final night on earth, G had an awful temp ranging as low as 101.7 all the way to 106.2; which was just shortly before she left this world. Always the fighter, even til the very end, I know in my heart she would have lived had there been any way possible. She wanted to fight, but her body just could not go on  any longer. Still today this all feels like a horrible nightmare. I do not know how I can bear the thought of not having her with us.

G’s worth was perhaps greater then she ever understood. Perhaps that was due to her scarred past and her pain of never truly understanding how dear she was to so many others….

I chose this Maya Angelo poem out of a book she kept close to her, as I feel it speaks to her life. So much physical and emotional pain that she was forced to endure while fighting for her life. I witnessed her laughing with nurses and doctors as they poked and prodded her body day after day, week after week, year after year. I watched her bite her tongue while she endured painful procedures. I watched her make medical personnel laugh with her sarcastic humor, while I could see in her eyes she was falling into anxiety hell. It was truly a blessing to know her. And a bigger blessing to love and be loved by her.

I believe this poem describes her journey perfectly.

Still I Rise – Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

In the arms of the angels

My best friend, my hero, warrior, fighter, and light is off for a well earned rest, after a courageous battle and a far too short, but otherwise gracious, adventurous and love-filled life. G was beautiful, gentle, compassionate, smart, outgoing, and she radiated love.

I will be back to provide more detail and a tribute to this lady that she deserves, but my heart is shattered and I am unable to do so right now.
I keep coming back to life not being fair and how we joked about that. We were with each other though so much holding each other up. Now I feel as though a part of me died with her. No, my dear friend, “life wasn’t fair, and you of all people should know that”.  It sure wasn’t. But you always did your best. And it was always good enough. Right up to your last breath.

I miss you so much already, G. Save me a space. And I’ll see you later. Love you most, M

Resting peacefully after a rough evening

This evening when we were moved from one room to another, G had another breathless panic attack that took some time and meds to calm down. Once again, the horror of her panic attacks are hard to put into words. It was horrifying to watch and no person should ever have to endure such fright.  The fact that she was so lucid probably had much to do with the infused drugs that were losing a bit of their effectiveness, and therefore not able to do their job at suppressing her shortness of breath. She later made it known to me that she can not face further days of breathless torture. And during a quiet moment she told me she knew this wasn’t easy for me and she thanked me for everything I have done and continue to do for her. It was both beautiful and terribly sad. And I am so thankful that I have been here with her through it all. Both for her, and for me.

I love her so much. My beautiful soulmate. It breaks my heart to see this cancer overtaking her body. She is so perfect and sweet on the inside and I cannot understand why something so ugly has to hurt someone so beautiful.  Tonight she rests comfortably. Thank God for that.

Life is not about the time you spend on earth but about how many lives you have touched while on earth.

Thank you all who have asked about G. I am not very familiar with how to work this blog so I don’t know how all the ins and outs. I do know that G cares very deeply for many of her friends she met through her on-line communities and she asked me to keep everyone updated.  Which I will faithfully do.

Peace and love,
M.

Battle rages on

Please…once again I am asking for major prayers for G. Her breathing has been increasingly labored throughout the day today. Please pray for comfort and ease of breath. I do not know if she feels short of breath as she does not wake to tell us.  Thankfully the new pain med regiment seems to be working for now as she is sleeping more.

She also seems to have fluid retention in her upper chest area, right below the collar bone area. At first it was only on the left side but now it is on both sides; we can feel and see the spongyness. She still has a terrible wet, fluid filled cough but she is too weak to cough much and labors over each cough.

I fear the worst and my heart feels very heavy with sorrow for her suffering and heavy for our impending loss. I don’t know what we will do without our sweet G.

Grateful for Grace

This has been a really tough week! There are moments that are so bad in the last couple of days when G has been so weak, she’s started to become a little confused and unable to remember the words for things. I try to help her then when she falls asleep I cry. It’s so hard to see her like this.   It’s hard to see anyone we love suffer.

This morning when she seemed to find her words she fretted a lot trying to understand and plan for what is ahead. We all struggle with that, but know that there is great beauty and no pain or fear for her there. We try to work through things with her the best we can, with words that don’t come very easy. She’s sad and confused about this process, and still trying to accept what is happening. Also it is so very heartbreaking as she fought for so long and so hard.

Please continue praying for G to not be afraid and come to peace with what is ahead, for us to do and say the right things, and to bring peace, comfort and strength for her friends and family.

love, M.

Pray for peace

Things are not good for G right now. She continues to have significant air-trapping in her left lung. What this means is that air goes in but cannot come out. She feels like she cannot breathe. This makes her feel panicked and scared and more panicked.  She is also still fighting fevers that have climbed at times to 104.

She has been dehydrated so that has made matters worse. As I understand this, the tumors cause mucus production in her lungs. And with being dehydrated everything got thicker. Her lung is no longer moving air on the left side. If she could get enough air to generate some good coughing, she might be able to get some of it up. But she isn’t able to inhale deeply on an already full lung. And she has no energy from the battle with pain and lack of nutrition and dehydration. All day yesterday she was begging for help, crying that she could not breathe.

This is awful. No matter how terrible a picture I paint, it cannot touch how bad this really is. Every breath is a struggle. Yet, her oxygen stats are okay. Her right lung is moving air. So she isn’t really suffocating but she feels like she is. I really do not know what to post about her situation. But we need help on this lung restriction issue for her to be in any way comfortable.

If she can cough up some stuff, she could eat and drink and get a bit stronger. She wants to fight on. She said today that we must have hope and we must be stronger than our fear or else the cancer wins.

So, I come again begging for your prayers for her. Specifically, that left lung needs to let go of its air and mucus so she can breathe in and out again. In the meantime it is all she can do to whimper, cry out for help, cry out that she cannot breathe, repeat that she is miserable . . .ever hopeful for some relief.

She is spent. This is a cruel disease that has already caused her tremendous suffering. To watch knowing that I can do little to help her. . .it is all but unbearable. She is too uncomfortable for me to hug or cuddle or even stroke her head. I can only sit nearby and try to assure her I am here. When all I desperately long to do is wrap my arms around her and tell her how much I love her.

But instead we wait. And I type this entry. And I pray and pray and pray. Please pray with me that she finds away to cough this yuck up and we can keep moving forward…to a place of relief, and peace.

Just please pray

Just please pray for G. I don’t know what else to say. Yesterday was a hard day for us. I keep typing then deleting things to say.

Yesterday evening, G started to feel particularly bad. It progressed through the night and we couldn’t understand what was wrong. Early this morning, it worsened to a crises point of tears, fear, panic and pain. Finally, she just began wretching. After that, she settled down. It appears what happened is that she got a mucous plug that was acting like a ball valve – allowing air in but not out. Thus, her lung kept puffing up like a balloon. She couldn’t breathe in easily because there was no space for it to get to – and out, well, out was the issue.

G is still struggling today-her breathing is quite labored but she is now resting more deeply than she has for days.  But, for a time there. . .well, it scared us all deeply. I am thankful for today. We have today. I wasn’t sure we would. So today we march on ever faithful to do whatever we can for her health, for her comfort, for her spirit, for her life.