I read some bad news today, as soon as I woke up and checked the Facebook icon on my phone. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer.
She didn’t just die from breast cancer, she died from a long drawn-out battle with breast cancer that took both of her breasts one at a time then moved on to her back and the bones in her pelvis. She died from the numerous chemo treatments and multiple surgeries. She died even though she did all of the “right things”. She ate well, exercised, slept, laughed, loved and touched so many around her in so many ways.
She got cancer anyway.
It didn’t just take the breath out of me when I first read the post on Facebook, I honestly thought that my brain wasn’t functioning correctly and that I was misunderstanding the message. Somehow, I thought, this can’t be true and the real post should read “she has made a miraculous recovery and will be dancing at her own birthday party next month!” It took me awhile to process the news. It was early morning and I was alone for the first hour in the kitchen trying to wrap my head around it.
I made coffee. I cleaned up the sink area. I checked email. Then I went back and reread the post. It was still there and condolences were being posted. I tried to write my own, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not yet. Surely we were all reacting too quickly and it would turn out to be incorrect information, right? I would hate for her to think that I gave up on her.
Then I cried.
Every time I tried to think of her being gone I cried again. I cancelled a coffee date with another friend by text, too afraid to use my voice for fear that all I would do is cry. I spent the better part of today in a monk-like silence, working and cleaning inside of my home and hoping not to have to tell anyone or say it out loud. I cried again and again, for my loss and for her children’s loss. For her husband left alone to raise their children. For her mother who buried her husband only two years ago. How would they all deal with their grief and loss? Hadn’t they all suffered enough already as they watched her fight for her life?
I called to make an appointment with my OB/GYNE determined to finally get that mammogram – it’s been three years since my last one. The last time we Skyped I promised her that I would do it. I don’t pretend to believe that it’s a magic spell or a shield against the same diagnosis happening to me, but I promised her.
I will think of her often, and all of the people that she touched along the way, and over time I will stop crying each time I am sure. I will remember the way she brought so many different people together and was the glue of so many groups, the life of the party, the planner of parties, the friend who would listen and not judge or judge for you against whatever/whomever was making you unhappy. She made you feel special, always.
She was stunning, beautiful, warm, funny, entertaining, brilliant, loving, caring, generous and most of all she was my friend.