I know my way around an irrational sense of abandonment. Outside of my husband and son, I am mostly alone. Now mind you, I say this without any self-pity whatsoever, it is simply what is. When I was young I made three best friends in high school. Three of those wonderful friends that you can only make in childhood– friends that stick it out with you through growth, fights, and life. Creech, Rashell, and the Miz.
The “A Team”.
In 2007, Creech passed away. It was so shocking, so earth-shattering, that I don’t even know that I grieved properly. I just shut my brain off, my heart off, and stopped thinking and feeling for months. I pretended it didn’t happen and that I was fine. Ten months later, Rashell passed away from a drug interaction gone awry prescribed to her by a doctor I hope is no longer practicing medicine. I called her one day from the pool to gloat about the ridiculously glorious weather on the water while she was stuck in the Florida rainy season -half drunk- and her mother answered the phone. I don’t even remember getting back upstairs. When my brain clicked back in I was in our apartment with my now-husband and I was screaming my lungs out in a heap on the floor.
That one I felt too much. I wallowed, I bawled, I curled up into a little ball for the better part of a month. I spoke at her funeral and never shed a single tear but I couldn’t put on makeup without it running down my face for weeks afterward. In a way, I grieved for both. I grieved so much I couldn’t think straight. I went from being a person that couldn’t bear to have people see my tears to the woman that openly wept in the gas station looking at the brand of candy bar that we stole in the 9th grade for a bet.
While all of this was going on, my third best friend, Miz, was in prison. After high school she had decided she loved pain pills more than personal freedom and had been bouncing in and out of the system since. We had all stood by her through it all. Through her stealing from us, lying to us, and her multiple incarcerations. When she was off, she was all sunshine and good times and you remembered what you so loved about her. Then, two short weeks later, she’d be sweating, wearing long sleeves and beanies in the middle of July, and disappearing for extended periods of time when she was over. Whether she was in the bathroom using or cleaning out your wallet, you never knew until you were at the grocery store trying to pay for a hundred dollars worth of groceries with crumpled receipts and bits of paper. None of us were angels…but she was as unpredictable as the weather before the invention of satellite. But we stood by her. We were the A team and no man was left behind.
The day after my son came home from the NICU, I received a call from Florida. I glanced at it and assumed it was my mom. “I’ll call her later. She’ll understand”, I thought and drifted back to sleep. Since it was the second morning of full-time motherhood and my brain was so sleep deprived and confused, I didn’t even recognize that it was close to my mother’s phone number but a few digits off. So on the fifth attempt, when I finally realized my mistake, I answered. It was my step-dad. My mother was gone. I talked to her the day before and she was so excited to fly out and meet her grandson now that he was home. Just gone, in the blink of an eye, two weeks after her 50th birthday.
Now, with this death, only a year and a week after the last, I was a new mother. New mothers cannot drown their sorrows in wine and vodka and listen to depressing music until just before the sun rises and sleep all day. A new mother is overwhelmed, exhausted, and barely holding on those first few days without the grief of dealing with loss. And new mothers of tiny, four-pound preemies (who are not to be in contact with germs -at all- for any reason) cannot travel. So, I couldn’t go to the funeral.
With all of this going on, I reached out to Miz. I knew she was in rehab and I wanted to give her the time to work out what she was going through and really make a go of it this time. But I needed her. I needed someone to lean on.
When I called her she told me she was clean and to stay clean she felt like she needed to put everything from her old life behind her. And that included me. Mind you, I still have bad credit from the time before I moved that she stole my brand new car and totaled it. When asked, I refused to tell the police that she actually snuck in my house and took the keys off of my coffee table (while on Xanax) because it would be her third strike. So, of course, since she didn’t “steal” it and I let her “borrow” it and she wasn’t on my insurance…it wasn’t covered so the loan defaulted. Yes, this girl, whom caused me to have to go pick up my ATM card from drug dealers houses…no longer could talk to me. Life, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. I have heard that she relapsed again though no one was less shocked than me.
You may wonder why I am telling you all of this. Aside from it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to (cry if I waaaaaant to).
Since this three and a half year debacle of losing everyone…I have been “not accepting applications” for new friends. I call it the “Goldilocks’ Complex”. You know the chick. “It’s too hot; it’s too cold.” Nothing was ever good enough for ol’ Miss Locks. That was me with meeting new people. They were smart so they were arrogant, too dumb and I couldn’t have a conversation with them…well, you are getting the point. I began to find fault with everyone that I met for years.
But then, seemingly out of nowhere, I met my friend, Annie (names have been changed for privacy’s sake). She has sons; I have sons. And we live in walking distance from each other. So, it goes without saying that play dates turned into a friendship. While our boys were roughhousing, we were telling our stories.
While I did my usual bit in the beginning of picking her apart, she started to grow on me. It felt good to open up again. I was glad to have someone to talk to. She was smart but not arrogant, funny without being obnoxious, and could identify with so many things that I have been through in my life. Finally, in spite of myself, I had a friend.
Again, you may be wondering where all of this is leading. Don’t worry, I am getting there.
A month ago she had a biopsy. It was most likely not cancer but they were going to remove it. Which they did. Which prompted them to let her know that it was, in fact, cancerous. Now my only friend is about to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
My heart breaks for her. My heart breaks for her husband and two small children. I worry so much for her and what she is going to have to go through. When I was little, my mother used to tell me that life wasn’t fair. Which it isn’t. But she also told me that good things happen to good people and I don’t know if I believe that anymore. My mom, who did everything she could to better my life no matter how much I tried to destroy it, died way too soon while my father is still alive -somewhere- drinking himself into a slow grave. My two best friends that never hurt anyone are gone while the one that is alive has wronged everyone that she ever encountered. Annie gives every ounce of her life to her children and family, eats organic food, and does yoga. She has breast cancer. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and no one is exempt from the chaos that is the Universe.
Mostly, I am pouring my soul out because, shortly after my last hiatus, I might be taking a bit of another. They asked to bring me on to take care of the boys and the house and with her aftercare. So, I will have my hands full. Like, three-kids-and-two-houses full. But I will do my best to pop in and share some of the hilarity that will most likely ensue with me attempting to manage all of this and it’s not for a few weeks so hopefully I can bang out some fun pieces before then.
Because, so help me, if I lose another friend…I may just move to a remote Alaskan farmhouse miles out of captivity and there may not be wi-fi for me to blog from.
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.