Knowing someone is going to die is truly a gift to you. Use it wisely.
A tribute to my wonderful friends!
My 2012 New Year began with the passing of yet another wonderful friend, the third one I've lost in the last six months. In my 47 years I have lost many loved ones and friends, more than I care to admit. Though it is truly sad to think of my life without any of these people, I can appreciate the fact that I received a "gift" before each of them died.
The "gift" I am referring to is the fact that I had prior knowledge that each had only a short time to live and would eventually die from their sickness. It sounds strange to refer to it as "a gift", but it truly is. How many people die and you find yourself being sorry that you hadn't spent more time with them? How many people have died that you wish would have known exactly how you felt about them? Because I knew they were sick I was able to make as much time for them as I could and let them know exactly how I feel. I am a strong believer in fate and think that all three of these ladies were put into my life for a reason. Each has taught me a little about life's lessons and I am thankful that they took the time to share their wisdom with me, made time for me when they weren't sick and most of all..were wonderful friends.
Rest my friends!
Though my grieving process continues, I draw comfort and strength in knowing that all three of you ladies will no longer suffer and are in a much better place. I thank all of you for gracing my life with your presence, in life and in death. My only hope is that you can still hear me when I talk to you because I have so much more to tell you. Until we meet again, Rest In Peace!
I have had the pleasure of knowing her for about 9 years and became close to her after the passing of her husband. Gail grieved the loss of her husband and best friend and was just beginning to go on with her life when we became really good friends about 4 years ago. She was a very giving and caring person who did not know a stranger. She was one of the first people to respond if anyone needed anything. We were good together. I made her laugh when she felt like crying and she made me laugh because I felt like laughing. (I don't like to be down very long!) We spent countless hours shopping, thrift shopping, making candy and working benefits together. She had the best kitchen ever (newly remodeled and it had EVERYTHING!) and loved to cook. We would tease her about "Meals on Wheels", but the only one she would deliver to was her daughter. You had to come and pick yours up, which I suspect was her way of telling you she wanted to spend time with her. Pretty clever, I'll have to admit.
Then it happened. In August 2010 she was diagnosed with cancer. She routinely went to doctors appointments and had no idea that a mere backache was the only indication of this deadly disease. By July 2011 she was dead.
Though it was a struggle to see my friend deteriorate in such a rapid state, I had to admit that again, my "gift" was knowing that her time here would be short. Action packing all we could in those 11 months, friends and family made the most of what life she had left. Thankfully she was able to see her only daughter's 40th birthday and also celebrate her wedding anniversary date with a July 4th party that she threw every year as she wished.
The only comfort I can really draw from this is knowing that as much as she grieved the loss of her husband, she is with him now and no longer suffering.
What a special person! She was the ex-mother-in-law of one of my best friends and I had heard stories about her for years but never really met her until 2009. We became instant friends and she reminded me of my own mother who died in 2000. She was 74 years young and I'm sure was quite a card in her day. As it turns out, she knew my father and my uncle from her days as a barmaid at a local club. What a small world.
Collene was a retired Dietary Supervisor from a mental hospital (also ironic, I worked in that building after it was closed down and vacated so we got to share ghost stories too) and had been diagnosed with COPD and had hip replacements that didn't go so well. She was restricted to using a walker and didn't get around that good, so everything was a struggle.
Despite her illnesses she was strong willed and had an agenda all of her own. She refused to let anything get her down or stand in her way of progress. In many of our daily heart to heart talks (which I miss so badly) she reminded me to slow down and not stress myself out. She was as caring as any mother would be which reflects in the lives of both of her children, her surrogate children and everyone else she knew.
She told me in one of our conversations that she was thankful that I was her friend and that I had pulled her out of one of her depressions that she suffered due to her illnesses. She was thankful? I'm the one who was thankful. I had grown to love this woman in such a short time and could not believe that I was so fortunate to have her in my life. She taught me more about life and myself in the short time I knew her than most people learn in a lifetime.
One thing that I was able to do is talk her into letting me do things for her. Nobody was going to do it for her, she could do it herself! I guess it's all in the delivery, because I made her understand that her strength and good days should be spent doing something really cool instead of grocery shopping. Her good days were filled with trips to the thrift stores, going out to eat, flea markets, etc.
Our last evening together was spent at a local restaurant followed by a trip to the grocery store. The next day I received the call that she had a heart attack and was in the hospital. It was touch and go for awhile, but she was eventually sent to a nursing home to recover. In my trips to the nursing home I was reminded that she was not herself and never would be again. It was really sad to see such a strong willed woman who was very apparently in a state of depression and illness that she would never survive.
I was surprised at her funeral to see a wire wrapped ring that I had given her on her finger. I gave it to her when she was in the nursing home and she refused to let them take it off of her. In the end I am still with her. Rest in Peace, Collene! I will never forget you.
Sandie was a hairdresser turned secretary whom I met some 15 years ago at work. She was a very strikingly beautiful woman who had very little self confidence. Through the years I watched her blossom into a model employee who loved her job more than anything and gain the self confidence that she deserved.
Sandie also had COPD but could never quite give up smoking. She knew it was killing her, yet she could not seem to quit. She was so devastated when she made the decision to leave work on disability. I do not know if our company knows how hard it was for her to leave, but I'm sure they are well aware of her abilities in her absence.
She loved to gamble, (as I do) A HUGE UNDERSTATEMENT, and took me on one of her free trips to Atlantic City on a chartered plane and to Windsor, Canada. We've been to Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia and to local establishments. She was a blast to spend time with. To give you an indication of just how much she loved to gamble, she managed to get to a casino three days before her death!
I've seen her several times since her retirement. I knew she was bad and would not be here long. I really didn't expect her to make it to Christmas. I told a few co-workers that they should not put off the lunch date they were planning and to get over to see her really soon. Some other friends and I took dinner over to her house one night and were delighted to see her eat so well. Perhaps she was getting better? No, she wasn't.
I will never forget my last telephone conversation with her. She was crying and said, "I'm dying, Kerry. I don't want to die." What do you say? I don't know how I managed to say anything and I don't know if my words were of any comfort to her, but I do know that we shared how we felt about each other and for that I am grateful.
I only hope that there are slot machines in heaven to sustain you until you are reunited with your loved ones. We will surely miss your wit, humor and charm!
If you are made aware that someone has a terminal illness and will die, consider it your gift. Even though it saddens you, it prepares you for what you need to do. Spend time with that person and fill your memories with joy and laughter. Don't avoid them because you don't think you can handle it.
I could easily think that I should not make any new friends because they are taken from me, but I won't. Regardless of the length of time these people were in my life and what they contributed by being there, the bottom line is that I am a much better person for having known them.
For these gifts I thank you!
Since Publishing 2 days ago I've Lost Yet Another Friend
January 3, 2012:
Just getting back to work after the New Years break and the devastation of losing another friend on New Years Day I received even more devastating news.
My friend Mary Ann, very close to my age, was found dead in bed by her husband last night. Other than going to bed not feeling well there is no known reason for her death at this time.
This time there was no gift, no warning. Just the shock of coming to terms with the fact that she was no longer with us. As devastating as my other three friends death were, there was no shock. I am overwhelmed with emotion as I try to rationalize why Mary Ann was taken from us.
Mary Ann was a very special person who went above and beyond the call of duty most of the time. She was a home health care worker who took excellent care of her clients. She was an avid thrifter and joined us for just about every tour we scheduled and looked for items for her pride and joy, grandson Austin (Awesome Austin as she called him), or her clients.
Mary Ann showed up to every party with more than enough food and a smile. She entertained most of the party goers and was always full of great ideas and suggestions.
We attended both Rod Stewart and Toby Keith concerts with her as a group and had a blast. She and her family gathered at a mutual friend's pool regularly and kept us laughing and entertained.
Her latest passion was her grandson, Austin, who lives with her daughter, Desiree, and son-in-law in California. She has made numerous trips there and also sent for them to return home on vacation and looked forward to their gatherings.
Mary Ann and her husband Tim were wonderful parents to their own grown children and have raised her great neice and nephew since they were 2 and 4 years old. They are now teenagers and will be greatly impacted by her loss.
Prayers to the family and friends of Mary Ann as we struggle with her loss.
I will miss you, Mary Ann. Rest well my friend. You are finally at peace.