It is the last day of a really difficult year for my family and I, one which will never be forgotten to be certain. It has been a year of loss and pain, but also one of gratitude for the time that we had with my father, and with friends and family. So many amazing people were there for us during our time of grief, and I don’t think that I will ever be able to repay them…try as I may. Many have shared their losses with me as well, and the experience bonds us with heartfelt compassion and empathy. For them, I am thankful.
But the hits keep coming… just yesterday I received news about the loss of a close friend of over 30 years, Ann Marie. Her passing was sudden and unpredictable; shocking really.
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about the “pros & cons” of cancer…some disagreed with me because they didn’t understand that there was anything “good” about such a terrible disease. But I believe it to be true, especially now :
The gift of cancer is that it gives us time to prepare, to let the inevitable sink in. It allows us the opportunity to go down fighting; to try everything that is available, from research studies, to proven protocols. Mostly, it gives us the gift of hope. And when we can see that the hope is fading, and our arsenal of medications are no longer working, it gives us the gift of saying a proper good-bye; saying what needs to be said before it’s too late. The closure that it can bring is the only thing that makes it bearable.
Traumatic, sudden accidents or events, such as a heart attack, 9/11, or a car accident, do not give you closure; death is unexpected. No one can possibly be prepared. There are no “good-byes” or “I love you”, or “I’m sorry”…. there are regrets. And to me, that is even worse than a prolonged battle with cancer.
We were great college friends; exhausted nursing students suffering through our exams and clinicals, but still finding time to have fun, dance, and laugh. I would have never gotten through our Psych rotation without her! She loved mental patients, that’s for sure (and I say that with the utmost respect of course)! She had a special way about her and she could literally talk to anyone and be genuinely interested and engaged. I envied that about her. She had a remarkable memory too…she remembered the craziest things about our adventures, most of which I had forgotten, or blocked out for my own sanity. She would randomly post an old photo of us on FB just because. Those memories were a surprise gift to remind us of the “good old days” and always brought a chuckle, if not a flash of regret for my fashion choices or tall hair (it was the 80’s, afterall). Below is our college graduation picture…Lisa, Ann Marie, and me. Great times.
We even worked in the same hospitals most of our careers, but I stayed in the world of Pediatrics, while she ventured into Nursing Research. We talked only a few weeks ago… she was checking in on me to see how Shea and I were doing coping with the loss of my Dad around the holidays. We only chatted for a short time, but even with both of our busy lives, she made the time to let me know that she was thinking about me. That was Ann Marie. She was a very special person. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a nurse, and a great friend to many.
She read every one of my blog posts and always left a kind word of encouragement to let me know how much she appreciated my writing. This blog post is for you… this is my way of saying good-bye. I hope you like it Am. You will never be forgotten my old friend. I hope you share a pint with my Dad up in Heaven…please give him a hug from me. I miss you both.
“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”. Never.