Thursdays are tough these days
Thursdays are tough. They used to be light, and happy... come Thursday, no matter what was thrown my way I could conquer it with a smile on my face, with that sense of calm from knowing the weekend would be here by close of business the following day. But, now they are just another mark on the calendar, another mark since I lost my best friend to cancer, and another week that has gone by where I can't pick up the phone to ask for advice. Another week goes by that I stay up late into the night trying hard to make meaning of all the conversations we had... what did she mean by this, or that?
It's Thursday, and on this Thursday I am at week 5 since I got the horrible call that my best friend, Bess, at 28, had lost her battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I have to stop myself from texting her everyday, and sometimes I want to call her phone, just to hear her voice again. I never do though, for two reasons: first, I'm sure someone in her family has her phone, and I couldn't fathom making this harder on them, plus, I don't know what I would do should they answer. Second, her voicemail, though lovely sounding, never sounded like her authentic true self.
My life seems robotic so much of the time, I work so hard at my job, come home and have no energy for anything, then I can't sleep. I replay moments we shared - happy times, and sad, I think about a horrible fight we had, and now it seems petty. I sometimes even stay up late at night researching things she described to me once, like her dream wedding dress, trying to find exactly what it would have looked like. I think about our secrets we promised to take to the grave, the literal meaning that now holds haunts me. Our promises to each other, small and large... our plans for our future, both near and close - we stopped planning for events years down the road, as one does in the face of a terminal illness. But, while events were typically only planned in stone a few months max in advance, we planned for life. We talked about growing old together, being batty old women, with rocking chairs and front porches. I stay up late at night reading old facebook and gchat conversations. I flip through my phone, there are so many pictures in it, and I realize some of my fondest memories together are captured only in the photos she took of me on those days, I wish I could go back in time, stop a stranger and ask them to capture the moment of us together.
I cling to stupid material things - her sweatshirt, we always left stuff at eachothers houses with the promise to get them the next time we saw eachother... but we'd always forget, so for months, sometimes years, we'd hang onto these items - integrating them in our own daily lives and then getting upset should the other person want it back. The sweatshirt is like that, only now I can't wear it. I can't even hold it.
When she had to get the bone marrow transplant she said goodbye to her fertility in order to welcome in her future. She asked me one evening, about this time last year, to one day be a surrogate for her. I said yes. It seemed funny at the time, that she'd ask me, the person with major joint problems, to one day carry a child for her. But to do something like that for her wasn't funny, the thought may have been peculiar, but the promise was genuine, and we embraced it together.
She was going to get a Pointer when she was in remission. We were going to go to Miami to celebrate the end of the cancer. We were going to be in one anothers weddings, that was always planned, though for most of our relationship we were both single. Some nights, we'd go out and she'd order us tequila, straight!, on the rocks with extra limes. We'd dance, and drink it, warming our insides, and responding with crazy fictitious stories when people asked if her bald head was a political statement.
I have so many unanswered questions. I can't believe that Milly outlived Bess. It wasn't supposed to happen this way - humans are supposed to live long, prosperous lives. It is as though just being human gives us immortality. Ironic, now.
Yes, Thursdays are hard. I don't know if they always will be, but so far it seems this way. My robotic life continues, a giant hole in my heart, my mind racing with unanswered questions, trying to make meaning of conversations that were never supposed to be meaningful.
It's going to sound crazy, but losing a friend to cancer is much harder (for me at least) than losing a friend in a sudden way would have been. I spent almost two years having to truly believe that she would get better, I couldn't just tell her that, I had to really believe it to provide that strength and support. I had to live each day embodying this belief we each held, and no matter how hard things were, I truly believed we'd get a miracle.
The logical and spiritual side of me both know I got that miracle, Bess got that miracle, when her body was released from this earth and she no longer lived in the chains of cancer. She HATED being sick, but she fought, and she did so in the most beautiful and glamorous way possible.
It has been 5 weeks since the Thursday when she left this world. I still sometimes think this is a dream, a really long dream, and I will wake up and she will be there.
If you're still reading this novella pick up the phone and call your best friend. Tell him/her you love them. Take pictures together. Go have brunch, and order that more expensive bottle of wine neither of you can really afford, but do it because life is short. Do it, and then go on a painful fiscal fast, and after, remember those moments and laugh and cherish them.
A picture of the two of us, and a picture she took of Milly.