I am not a big fan of New Year’s Eve… not since I lost my grandmother on this day in 1987. We were very close, and I think of her often during this time every year. My “Nanny” loved to celebrate New Year’s Eve; she believed in all of the traditions and old superstitions to start the new year the “right” way, from eating pickled herring for luck, to banging pots & pans outside with neighbors at the stroke of midnight.
This New Year’s Eve is the last day of a really difficult year, one which will never be forgotten. 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. 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 was intrigued by it all! She had such 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. She would randomly post an old photo of us on Facebook 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. All three of us pursued by the U.S. Navy to join as nurses after college graduation…we were tempted by visions of traveling the world and handome men in uniform, but ultimately we all chose to stay put in NJ… great friends with amazing life-long, cherished memories!
We even worked in the same hospitals, 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 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; 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 support and encouragement to let me know how much she appreciated my writing. This one is for you… this is my way of saying good-bye. I hope you like it Am. You will never be forgotten my friend. Rest peacefully.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind; should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne” (Burns, 1788).
Burns, R. (1788). Auld Lang Syne. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne