This may come as a shock to people, but my outlet, when things get wonky, is to write. I have always been that way. I have found that when I can map out my thoughts, I usually say everything I want, as opposed to just spewing words out of my mouth without thinking them through. Hey, I’m a planner. Apparently I like to have important conversations and discussions with a plan in mind, mentally preparing an outline for the points I would like to make so I don’t leave out anything I meant to say.
I suppose the planner in me can be linked to the fact that I don’t do well with change. I never have, which is interesting because I’m in events, which means I need to roll with the punches. Maybe a better statement would be I don’t do well with big change. The last day of school was always bittersweet because while I was excited for summer, I also knew that my friends in the senior class were graduating and wouldn’t be around the next year and that felt weird and I didn’t much care for it.
Last night, I was thrown a major curve ball when I got news that a dear friend was at UCSF with her daughter, who was slipping away. Not but a month before, her daughter had called to sing me happy birthday on my voicemail. She had beaten brain cancer a little over 10 years ago and despite being in remission for that time, she still had felt under the weather as of late and an infection had worked its way into her blood stream. I found out around 5:30 last night and by 10pm, my mom called me with the news that she was gone.
My heart broke and is still breaking for her family, which fought so hard for her during her initial diagnosis and cared for her constantly as her condition left her in a wheel chair. Still, she was at all of her brothers’ games, cheering wildly for them, never a prouder sister to be found. She used to paint her nails team colors, blue & gold for Napa High and green & yellow for Oregon. She collected thimbles, so when her mom came to visit me in New Orleans, we had to find one for her collection and she was presented with an alligator wrapped around a thimble, a bonus because of the size and texture of the alligator, which helped her “see” her gift, as she had lost her vision as a side effect of her cancer treatment. Her other senses were top-notch and she could pick out voices, those belonging to my family included. She knew my brother’s voice and she liked to cheer for him by calling out her nickname for him, Tedwardo, when he was up to bat or on the football field.
She was the most caring young lady, who always remembered your birthday and liked to give presents, just because. She liked to talk on the phone and be in the room during conversations. She didn’t mind sitting quietly, she just wanted to take it all in and be “in the know” with all of us ladies. She loved listened to the Beatles and spent her 21st in Vegas with her family at a Beatles Cirque du Soleil review. She didn’t seem to mind missing out on the visuals because she knew all of the words and simply enjoyed the music.
I am angry that her family must go through this loss, having been on such a roller coaster with her when she was first diagnosed. I’m grateful that her two brothers were able to be there, one coming to her hospital room from the campus at UC Davis and the other flying in from school in Oregon. I’m sorry they had to say goodbye to their sister, whom they loved to so dearly. I’m sad that we won’t hear her cheering for them at games anymore and I can’t seem to stop worrying about her parents, who dedicated so much of their lives to caring for her. I know this will possibly be the most difficult thing they will ever endure.
I’m sure she is resting peacefully now, but selfishly, that is of little comfort during this most difficult time.
My thoughts are with her family, I wish I could bring them some sort of peace. Instead, I will simply hug them, let one of my closest friends cry on my shoulder if she needs to, and we will try and focus on all the bright, happy and funny times we all had with her, as they figure out how to navigate this wretched change.