Warning: I’m about to go all whiny on all of you…

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”.

shellyIn 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.

momNow, 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.

Breast-Cancer-RibbonA 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.



Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

44 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’m hurting for you as I’m reading this post. I have lost some distant friends, none of the original girlfriends but I have lost my stepdad (who is the guy who raised me) and my father-in-law (who treated me like a daughter from the first time we met). Those 2 men were dads to me and I miss them soo much. It’s been 12 years for my stepdad and I still want to grab the phone and call him.
    I will be sending you and your new friend some positive energy for the months coming.

  2. I “liked” this for the writing and the guts it took to share these tragic losses. And I believe, from someone I know’s experience, that counselors who advise starting fresh are referring to DRUGGIE friends from the past, not the people that you will someday realize always had your back,
    Please know that I am sending prayers and positive thoughts to your friend, her family, and you.

    • Thank you and I know that you are right. It was probably just to get me off of her back so she was free to fall again. She went through all of it, too, and I know that it couldn’t have been easy for her, either.

      Thank you again, Diane, that means a lot.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. (Well, all of them actually.) Cancer sucks. I think it’s great that you will be helping during her recovery. She needs you. You are a good friend. I’ll be sending love and light for strength and hope…

    • Thank you! I hope to be as much help as I can. I have actually never really known anyone with cancer so I don’t know what to expect but I am hoping for the best!

      Thank you, again!

  4. Amber. Hugs to you a thousand times over. And perhaps, should you find the time amongst all of this, I should be so lucky to call you my friend. State lines and country borders not withstanding.

  5. Addiction and cancer and grief all suck. It’s draining and scary and it leaves very few untouched. I’ve lost bodies to cancer and souls to addiction. Your friend is in my thoughts, as are you, and I know you’ll do a great job helping her out. She clearly trusts you and I think that’s awesome.

    • Thank you. It all does suck. Life has a funny way of building you up to knock you back down. All in the name of personal strength and triumph.

      I am a rock at this point. Lol πŸ™‚

  6. You have had more than a lifetime of grief in the past few years. So much to deal with. Each loss a tragedy. As for your friends breast cancer. Hopefully she will be okay. We have a very strong genetic chance of cancer. My sister and three first cousins had breast cancer over the past 9/10 years. All had mastectomies and chemo some had radiation also and all are doing great. These are the stories your friend needs to hear.
    It is tiring and hard supporting friends through chemo. I have been that person too. Hang in there.
    See you when we see you.
    Best wishes.

      • πŸ™‚ And to take it a step further my brother who I am very close to got a very rare cancer at 28. The prognosis was very poor. That cancer too is linked to the gene we have. Anyway tell your buddy….. he is now 46!

  7. Oh how heartbreaking. I am so sad for what you have had to go through and can totally see how you’d wonder what the hell is going on in the universe for things to play out this way. It’s a raw deal. A raw deal indeed. You are a great friend to be helping out for her family too. Good luck. And i hope your friend comes through it all ok. The stats are on her side.

    • Life keeps you on your toes like that. It gives but it takes away. What doesn’t kill us and all that jazz. But I feel blessed, too, and just try not to dwell on the bad. Well, until something new comes up again… Lol πŸ™‚

    • I would like to reference the great Bob Marley on this one…”You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

      I swear, girl, before all of this I considered myself a “weak” person. Now, I am granite. πŸ™‚

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  8. I’m reading this and tears are streaming down my face. I keep thinking there is something here that ties you to these people. A heart with enough depth to feel the loss completely. Appreciate the souls who are lost and carry them with you. Someone told me once, that friends take a piece of our heart, and we take a piece of theirs. Until eventually our heart is no longer our own, it’s completely made up of all the pieces of the people we love. I’m glad you tell this story, that you remember those you loved with such poignancy. It’s the gift you give to their memories. I’m saying prayers for Annie. And for you. Be strong, and don’t stop telling stories. It’s what keeps your heart alive.

    • Oh, I love that! It is so true. You don’t have a heart until you have loved. I should be grateful to have had such wonderful people in my life at all. Some people don’t even get that.

      But I have my life, my current health, and my family…so I have what I need.

      And I don’t think I could ever stop telling my stories…because, you see, I have no one else to tell them to. πŸ˜‰

  9. I’ll be prayin’ that it all turns out well for your friend! It’s nonsensical how some people who are so great die so young while other turds live for decades. Who knows? It was nice to hear from you again though! Don’t be such a stranger.

    • I’m trying, I’m trying. I want to blog more but it’s so time consuming. I can’t just bang out mediocre posts anymore…y’all have set the bar too high! Lol Kidding, of course, but I totally voted for your blog idol. Good luck!

  10. My heart is so sad for you. I loved this post because it gave me a better glimpse into why you are the way you are, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to get close to anyone again. It’s hard enough making friends, but true friends are hard to come by. I hope that you can juggle it all, and your friend is very lucky to have you by her side.

    • Lol Always a psych junkie! πŸ™‚ Yes, I think it has certainly colored who I am (how could it not?) and it makes it so hard for me to be a friend and to have them equally. I am so stressed about juggling it. I was out of the gate like, “of course!”, and now I am petrified. They are paying me, of course, so the bar is high. I am going to know how you feel with three kids…but with two full houses to manage. Two full, four bedroom, two story houses.

      For three full weeks full time and 3-6 (?) months half days.

      Scared. To. Death.

      • Whoa. That sounds intense. At least if they weren’t paying you and you never got around to do something, they couldn’t be upset….just don’t forget to feed all of them and you’ll be OK. πŸ˜‰

    • I know, that is exactly it! But extra money is never something to turn down in a one income family, you know? There are so many things that get pushed aside for “when we have extra money” that never comes. Lol I am sure you know what I mean. πŸ™‚

      But I promised my husband I wouldn’t let anything falter here or with Jp’s therapies. And this kid still doesn’t sleep through the night consistently. πŸ™‚

      I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. The three weeks will be hard since I worry about mornings but half days should be really manageable. The best part is the oldest is in half day preschool so I can schlep the 18 month over here then and do what I have to do here and then back over for when the older comes home…put the baby down. Let the boys run amok outside while I clean there and prep dinner….

      Oh, perfect world…please happen every day for three solid weeks! πŸ™‚

  11. That’s very tough. I lost my mother over 3 years ago and my life nearly collapsed in on itself. The magnitude of what you are going through is so much harder than that. I know it is small consolation, but at least the survival rate of breast cancer is higher than other cancers. I hope everything goes well for your friend (and for you) in this difficult time.

    • It is a huge consolation, really. And losing your mother is unreal. I don’t care when or how but it hurts like no other pain that you can go through. You never really realize how vital she is in your life until she isn’t on the other side of the phone line.

      • So, so true. The number of times I want to call her because things are shitty or I’m not feeling well is uncountable. Nobody can replace your mom. The worst part was that she was, of course, the one person I wanted most to help me cope when she passed away. Anyway–I know I’m just a random internet person, but if you want to talk/email/rant, feel free — info@homemadesarcasm.com

  12. I know what it is to bring a child home from the NICU, and I can’t even imagine how I would have survived it without my mother there to support me. I can’t even find the words to tell you how sorry I am for your losses, and especially for what you must have been through with the loss of your mother. I don’t know how you find the strength, but I do know that your friend is incredibly lucky to have you in her life through this difficult period.

    • Thank you. It was almost good (?) in a way because my heart was full of so much love that I couldn’t break down. But it was a hard road for a few years.

      And thank you, again, for taking the time to read and comment. πŸ™‚

  13. Say this to anyone who asks why there is no clean laundry, you are late to preschool, you have dark circles under your eyes, etc., and most importantly to yourself (every 15 minutes) – “I’m doing the best I can.”
    And believe it. πŸ™‚ Diane

  14. I was in tears by the time I finished reading this. I hope you know that there are many people who are thinking of you and Annie. I’m not big on the whole praying thing, but I believe in good vibes and good karma and I’m sending both your way.


  15. Wow that was hard to read… Especially since I just got to work at it’s not even 8am yet. But you know what? I believe that Annie will make it through, because look at the friend she has- you. The strong, the determined, the one who never gives up. You are great, Amber. An inspiration to everybody who thinks they’ve lost everything. So don’t stop writing and keep sharing, because that heals and we are all here for you.

    Lots of love,

    • Thank you so much! And yes, bright and early in the morning might be a rough time for this one! Sorry! πŸ™‚

      Thank you, I have learned that one thing that you never know what door will open when one closes. It is always hard to watch the door slam shut…but life keeps moving whether we get on or not. I have seen amazing good come from bad and that is all I hang onto.

      Thank you, again, for taking the same to read and comment! πŸ™‚

  16. I did it, worked full time and had no one other than my husband. Took 3 days off for 7 months of chemo. She may not need that much help if she is tough and resourceful. Excellent of you to help, and lucky her for having you.

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