Are we starting to say good-bye? Dealing with grief

It’s been one of those nights. Even though I took melatonin, I’ve been awake since 2:45. It is now after 7. I finally finished The Shack since my cousin had a copy of the book. I started the book a year ago at my sister’s  house, but she was planning a book study about it and didn’t want me to take the book with me when I left. I had two more chapters to go. Now I know how it ends. It was still not even 4. I decided to play computer games. Then I decided to blog again.

I’ve been away from home nine days. I spent the first four days with my Chicago friend whom I wrote about at the end of July before I stopped blogging. I arrived on Thursday and within an hour she decided that she needed to go to the hospital for fluids. She had not been able to keep anything in her digestive system in any way for a day and a half. She was once again dehydrated. It was deja vu. When I visited with her two years ago at Christmas time, I arrived, and the following morning she went to the hospital for the same cause.

This time she was only in for 24 hours. She’d been on IV fluids constantly for all that time. I drove her to the hospital, but I only stayed with her about three hours. It was getting late in the afternoon and I didn’t trust myself to find her home in the middle of Chicago once it was dark. The next day I was there about 10 and stayed with her all day before I brought her home. We managed to find things to talk about the entire day. I was planning to leave on Sunday and she wavered back and forth about coming to Peoria with me. However, on Sunday she just didn’t think she had the strength. She felt kind of nauseous again so I decided to stay until Monday in case she needed to  return to the hospital. Fortunately she didn’t.

I managed to find a Unity church on Sunday and attended the service. I really needed to go. In the bulletin there was a paragraph that was meant for me. It said one of the laws of prosperity is to tell the people you appreciate that you DO appreciate them and why. I had gone up to my friend’s house to tell her just how much she meant to me but I just couldn’t do it. I got the courage on Monday before I left. I couldn’t say everything I wanted to say because my voice choked, but I think she got the message. I will write the rest of it in a letter when I get home.

As a child growing up in a small town, I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was the asthmatic girl who in third grade needed glasses and started gaining weight. In seventh grade I began my acne years. Fortunately, by eighth grade for a while my height more evenly matched my weight but plastic lenses had not been perfected yet so I still wore glasses as thick as coke bottle bottoms. My acne didn’t disappear until I was in my junior year.

I am thankful that I wasn’t bullied. I was just more or less ignored. At times I would be included and then I would once again be on the outs. There never seemed to be a reason and I spent my entire childhood clueless as to how to make and keep friends. Shyness didn’t help. In seventh and eighth grade my friend stuck with me even when she was the only one. By eighth grade she was a knock out….beautiful black thick hair, flawless skin, ample breasts, curvy hips, outgoing, friendly with everyone. You name it. She was everything I was not.  The boys started buzzing around her like bees to an abundance of nectar. She started dating. I didn’t.

After freshman year we drifted apart again, only doing things occasionally together, usually school related. When she asked me, as the editor in chief,  to write a column for our school newspaper our senior year, we once again started associating with each other a little more. It’s always been that way…in and out of each other’s lives.

I know she will never truly understand how much she meant to me. In any given period of  her life, she has had at least five friends who would consider her a best friend. She has a circle of support around her now that is phenomenal. I have had one best friend…her. Everyone else in my life (except my cousin) has been more of a friendly acquaintance. The walls I built up over my lifetime to protect myself from further loss and betrayal are still there. They have eroded with time but I don’t know how to make them completely disappear.

When we said good-bye I tried to affirm it will not be the last time I will see her. We are still talking safari but if she takes herself permanently off chemo, there may not be any more time to go. She still wants to see the elephants.

She has been clearing out many of her possessions and giving them away. I came back with several tee shirts and a jacket. She’s more or less getting her things in order. I don’t particularly want any elephants, but there was one tiny pink elephant hugging a heart within a snow globe that caught my eye. The whole thing was about the size of a large jawbreaker. I asked her if she would mind if I took that…the price on the bottom was $2.00. Of all her elephants, that was one that she was not ready to part with. Her Chicago #1B best friend (there’s another Chicago friend that would probably be #1A) had found it and given it to her a few years ago. That friend is her biggest help right now. She would notice if it were missing since she is with my friend several times a week. My friend said I should write my name on the bottom of it, but I didn’t.

I think I am softening with age. When I lost the many members of my family, I was sad, but I never allowed myself to really “FEEL” much of anything. I am too young to remember my mother’s death when I was not yet four. I was told I was inconsolible. I think that’s the first and last time I truly grieved about the loss of anyone. Now, I am allowing myself to grieve the gradual loss of my friend. In a way, it is a gift to myself to feel. It hurts, but at least I have the feeling that I am actually alive.

Namaste. Attic Annie


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