Why can't I say good-bye to you?

Photo by MZ

One of my friends is dying.

I think.

Doesn’t that sound odd?

I don’t know what is going on for certain. I rely upon e-mail and Facebook updates. My friend is a former co-worker, someone with whom I’ve worked off and on over the course of two decades. We kept in touch after I left my job. Until she got sick. Then she went underground. Or her family sequestered her for their own reasons. Whatever the story, I can no longer reach her by phone or e-mail or Facebook or through written requests sent by U.S. mail.

At first I was hurt. Then I brushed away my feelings, realizing that I was being self-centered. What did I know about terminal illness? Would I want a parade of visitors, no matter how well-meaning, filing past my sick bed or the sick bed of a loved one? Would I feel added pressure to somehow put on a brave face, have coffee and snacks available to feed my guests, worry about my house being a mess or about how everything appears to the uninitiated? My only experiences with death so far have been of the swift-moving type. Here today, gone tomorrow.

However, I know how comforting it was to have friends and family and acquaintances stop in to visit, drop off a cake or send a card after our family’s loss. So, I project this feeling on my friend’s situation. If I were dying and  no one called or wrote or tried in any way to visit me, wouldn’t I feel even worse? Maybe I wouldn’t know. Maybe the sharp edge of pain or the dulling effect of medication would keep me oblivious.

If  a long, wasting illness is how I exit this life, it will be my call how to handle it. This is her wish, or by proxy, her family’s call.  I must accept it no matter how much it tears at me.

Cancer isn’t discriminating. It sharpens the arrow and aims it toward any moving target. There aren’t any bull’s-eyes on the bad folks any more than there are protective shields on the good guys. I’ve watched as so many good-hearted, clean-living, health-conscious people in my life have stepped into its trajectory. I also marvel how others who seem to have a death wish just chug along, dodging all of death’s fast-moving arrows.

As crazy as this sounds, I sometimes dread logging on to my Facebook account and seeing that I have a message. The last one said: “She’s in hospice. It could be any time.”

How the hell am I supposed to react to that? My urge is to find her and rush to her side, to give her hand a squeeze, to tell her how thankful I am that she took me under her wing when I was a cub reporter, that she had my back, that she played a motherly role in my life when I needed it the most, that she made me laugh harder than just about anyone else on Earth, that I think she is one of the smartest, toughest, most caring and diplomatic people I’ve ever known.

I suppose the next time I see her will be at her funeral. I hope I’m wrong.

One of my friends is dying and I’m sorry I didn’t have one last chance to tell her how I feel.

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12 thoughts on “Why can't I say good-bye to you?

  1. Thanks for stopping by neighbor!

    I just read your post and how ironic, I am walking the line on doing a post about a friend of mine with cancer.

    May I just toss in my opinion? Find her, try to contact/see her before it’s too late. You’ll both be happy you did =)

    I hope the Divine Ms. Bossy makes it our way. I met her on her last adventure. She is as lovely inside as she is outside!

    ~Nancy

  2. Thank you both for the encouragement. I will try one more time. The problem is I don’t know where to send anything. But a try is better than nothing, right?

  3. At least you will know you tried.
    My hubby’s aunt just passed on Sunday from cancer. They put her in hospice Thursday. We went & saw her Friday & by Sunday, she was gone. I’m glad we got to see her one last time.

  4. Whether you know it or not, you just told her how you feel…so very movingly, beautifully and tenderly. I know it doesn’t lessen the pain of not knowing for sure, but know that you must be going through. I agree with the others though…try one last time. And I think sending a copy of this would be a perfect thing to send!

  5. i’m so sorry. i’d probably keep trying, as others have said. i don’t know if that makes me selfish, but i would feel better somehow knowing that i did what i could do, even if people didn’t want it.

    still, i am so sorry, regardless. this must be very painful for you.

  6. Oh, I am very sorry. You know MZ, maybe you could just write down the things that you want her to know. Her family would also cherish it later.
    I wish you the best in whatever that you decide. I’m sorry to hear this sad news.
    Love
    Liz

  7. Pingback: How the story ends | Mom Zombie

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