Friday, June 18, 2010

Our friend died yesterday.

She was three years older than me. She has two kids, one in his twenties and one just a teenager.

She had breast cancer. It was a rare, awful, aggressive kind that went into remission for long enough for her to talk about coming back to work, then exploded in her liver and bones and lungs and pancreas.

She was a good, good person. I never heard her say a word against anyone, or saw her be depressed or negative. The worst thing she ever said to me was this: just after her diagnosis, but before her first surgery, I asked her how she was doing. "I'm makin' it" was her answer.

"Makin' it" was as bad as it got for her.

She was unfailingly kind. She was unfailingly helpful. She never seemed to get tired. She never made excuses, or flew off the handle, or gossiped. Seriously: in a hospital as tiny as ours, nobody that I talked to could remember a time when she was less than *good*.

I worry about her sister. Let other people worry about her kids and her husband; her sister is also a friend of mine, and oh Lord how I worry. They were tight in the way that it takes most of us years to achieve, past the hurdles of adolescence and into adulthood. Five years apart, they were inseparable since forever. Now her sister has to live the rest of her life without the one person to whom she could've talked about all of this.

She'd worked in health care long enough to know what she did not want. No tubes, she said; no intubation, or compression, or drugs. Just give me enough morphine that I don't hurt too much, but let me be awake enough to see my babies. Every baby was her baby; the baby boom in the CCU made her so happy.

We'd all planned to go see her last night. She died yesterday at ten-thirty in the morning. She went smoothly and peacefully, bradying down into the 30's, with a blood pressure that was barely palpable, before things just stopped. Never any true agonal breathing, never any fighting; she just went to sleep. It was appropriate and right that the night shift nurses who'd worked with her were the last to visit, just before she went to sleep.

It was as good a death as you can have. It was as good a life as you could wish for.

It is as large a hole as you can imagine for the rest of us.

I would say "rest in peace", but it would be redundant. She believed, strongly, in a God more good than I can conceive of. She believed she would go to a Heaven I can't wrap my head around. She believed in an eternal, painless life after death, when everyone would be reunited and happy forever.

Who am I to say she was wrong? The strength of her faith makes me believe that she was right.


'Drea said...

Beautiful tribute to your friend...

Molly said...

I'm so sorry.

I don't really know what I believe in, but if there is a god who has an elaborate perfect plan for every person ever to exist...I wish he'd give a little insight now and then as to why it always seems to be the best people who go too early.

On the other hand, if that god does exist, there's something even better waiting for them outside of this life.

Good luck to all of you.

Dr. Alice said...

She sounds like a wonderful person (better than me, for sure). My condolences to her family, sister and all of you, her co-workers.

My medical group just went through something similar, losing one of our docs to cancer. His memorial service was held at the hospital this week. What really struck me is how many nurses attended; some of them spoke of how much he cared about patients and staff. That's the best memorial he could have had.

bobbie said...

My heart goes out to your friend, her sister, and to you ~~~

RehabNurse said...

She probably wasn't perfect, but she was your friend, and everyone else's, too, and that's what matters most.

And when I think about the void caused when people like that leave my world, I can only sincerely hope that their is an afterlife, because that at least makes the rest of the journey bearable, and the ironies and heartaches of their demise tolerable.

So I hope someday, the eons of suffering here end up being just a speck of time, and that the old wives' tale of the corpse and the rain on the casket really is true.

Because for a couple of local people lately, we've had downpours.

(*Happy is the corpse when it rains on the casket.)

Laura said...

That was beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss.

Penny Mitchell said...

I am so, so sorry. :-(

Polly Syllabick said...

It always feels trite to say "Sorry for your loss." But I am. So said it.

I'll also say that your words are a gift. And nothing else, because all the rest DOES feel trite.

Jo said...

I am so sorry for your loss :-( Thinking of you, your colleagues and her family.

messymimi said...

Please accept my condolences for the loss of this precious friend.

Moose said...

I'm very sorry.

Jenn said...

I am sorry for your loss, and the emptiness that accompanies it.

I am sure your friend is in a place every bit as beautiful, wonderful and peaceful as she knew it would be.

Bardiac said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Jo. She sounds like a wonderful friend and person. /comfort

Lioness said...

I'm so sorry. I'm so, so very sorry.

Abilene Rob said...

I'd managed to go a whole three days without weeping like a little girl, but then you had to go and do this.

woolywoman said...

"I loved my friend
He went away from me
There's nothing more to say
The poem ends,
Soft as it began-
I loved my friend."
— Langston Hughes

bdaiss said...

So so sorry Jo. Kudos to you for worrying about her sister. Hugs and warm fuzzies.