I went to church this morning even though I was still tired from my ten-day trip. Several of my friends there knew the purpose of my trip and I discussed small bits with them. Except for one time, I was able to talk about my Chicago friend without tearing up. I had said good-bye.
She was still talking about the safari we have vowed we would take. She is so close to deciding to go off the chemo. I haven’t talked with her since I left her and only exchanged one email. She said if she goes off the chemo she’ll take a month or so to build up her strength from the ravages of the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea she’s been experiencing as side effects. Then, if she feels better, she is going to go to Africa. We’ve been talking about a safari for a long time.
She told me she would take the trip in stages and not fly directly there. When she started discussing those plans, I told her I would have to just meet her over in Africa. I can’t afford all the extra stops she said she would take to avoid the nineteen hour flight. Her reply was that I would not have to worry about the money. She has enough for the both of us. It’s her money. She earned it. She will spend it as she sees fit. She has no husband or children. She has a sister who has a couple of daughters and their families, but she assured me they would be adequately provided for and she would still have enough for such a trip. I didn’t say anything. I was stunned that she would make such an offer.
My friend has been fascinated by elephants as far back as I can remember. Her apartment is a three bedroom, two bath unit. There is not a room that doesn’t have at least a dozen elephants of some kind. She has several curio cabinets that are stuffed full of figurines. She wants to see the elephants in the wild, she said, while they are still there.
I don’t have a clue as to whether we will make the trip or not. It makes me uneasy in a way being in Africa with her. There would always be the possibility she would make it over there but would not make the trip back. I didn’t express that thought to her. I didn’t think it was necessary until the time actually arrived. I would have to have clear instructions from her sister as to what to do should that happen. That would be quite a responsibility.
I am not one to have visions as some people say they have, but I swear I did have one. My friend and I were in the back of a truck. We saw a small group of elephants. Suddenly a baby elephant broke from the herd and approached the truck. It’s mama became agitated at first, then looked at the occupants of the truck. She calmed down as the baby came up to my friend and extended its trunk so that my friend could pet it. My friend was overcome with joy and emotion. The baby then trotted back to its mother. The vision faded.
Perhaps we all have a connection we are supposed to make in this world. I’d like to think that the vision I had was the connection that my friend is supposed make. I know it would make her life complete.
Maybe she was the connection I was supposed to make. Ours by far has been the longest friendship I have ever had with anybody. Almost all the rest have been a few years at best. Granted the friendship has been off and on, but we have always picked up right where we left off the last time.
My role in our relationship I finally decided was my Sancho Panza to her Donna Quixote, Woman of La Mancha. Her entire life has been spent trying to right wrongs and aid the underdog. i can’t go as far as saying she tilted at windmills, however. People have always known she would take up the challenge to help anyone. Sancho was the manservant. I don’t know the female modern equivalent of such a position. I just know that my friend forever took the lead. That was OK with me. If we do go to Africa, I would have to do so prepared to serve my friend to the end and step up to take the lead when necessary.
In the end, her gift to me is the ability to grieve. I know that sounds weird but with all the deaths I have encountered in my family, except for one uncle, I have never felt the ability to grieve. With my friend, there have been several times I have cried at length. I have felt the hurt. The main thing I am trying to say is that I have FELT. That is something for most of my life I have never been able to do, yet some things will make me tear up almost instantly. I know I have already talked about this once but being able to actually express my feelings is a new experience for me. Perhaps by letting myself grieve openly for my friend, I will at last be able to allow myself to opening feel and express other emotions. Perhaps that is what I am here on this planet this time around to do. It will be a rare experience if that does indeed happen.
Namaste. Attic Annie