Life carried on for everyone, and several years later, my friend and I found each other on AIM in a chat room, lost touch, then again via MySpace. We migrated to Crackbook and Blogger. Our girls love hanging out when we finally get together anymore. We went from living 10 miles apart to 20 miles apart to 30 miles apart, as we each moved to much nicer houses. She'd get sick, so I'd give her the time and space to recuperate and not feel like she has to entertain me. I have impeccable timing and always called when she was asleep. Then I'd promise to call back, get sidetracked with other stuff and forget to call. Then weeks would go by and we'd occasionally breeze past as we waved on crackbook. And then she posted a blog saying she was dying. Well, ok, it wasn't the most personal way to learn this news, but then again, I am guilty of not being more present in her life to get a phone call. She knows I don't deal with loss well at all, and we're both not the kind to keep it depressing and boo-hoo-ey. Snark is quick to follow. So, she probably figured that it was easier to break the news en masse on her blog, and let people digest it their own way and then take the next step.
She was born with a bad heart, and to shorten it all, she's died numerous times, defied doctors, and should have expired 11 years ago by all their accounts of things. But she's allergic to all the drugs, and a transplant isn't an option. As one gung-ho cardiologist got all hard-chargin' superhero on her, the cardiologist who GETS her said to Dr Wanna-Be-A-Hero, "She won't survive the anti-rejection meds, you dumbass." She now has a 19% ejection fraction, and only one chamber of her heart is functioning. She keeps fighting every day she can for another minute, another hour, another day because her daughter has no other ally, advocate, or teacher. She's decided to homeschool the rest of the time she can because it's the only way her daughter will get an education. This brilliantly funny girl is not a vegetable, but she's not being accepted by the kids and teachers in mainstream classes either.
And I suck as a friend, so I only learn of things via blog posts and crackbook status updates, not because I've stayed connected with someone. My life is its own brand of crazy, and all my friendships have suffered for it. And I was that friend that just disappeared. That's not what I want to be, and I shouldn't have gotten to that point. Meanwhile my friend has had plenty of friends fall off the face of the earth, some flat out say "I can't lose a friend on these terms, I'd rather lose a friend on my terms" - throwing up the deuces and walking away. At least they did that much. Some folks have become that really strong velcro that refuses to let go. You know the kind that catch the waistband of your underwear and pulling them apart frays the elastic so badly you can't fathom wearing that pair anymore? Yea, that's a couple people in her life. And she's had to deal with all of it. Meanwhile, my wagon-circling over here in my neck of the woods has unfairly left her hanging, and thinking I am not going to handle losing my friend. But even when you see it coming, even 8 or 9 years long, you still hold out hope that odds will again be defied and you can at least get closer to an age where people are *supposed* to start dying off on you. So, no, I won't handle it well. I never handle death well. My mom's death was hard, but in reality, we weren't ever really close. I think it was harder dealing with my dad's mourning than it was to actually mourn my own loss of my mother. But losing a friend who has peppered your life off and on over the last 22 years is a different ball of wax. Losing a friend forces you to start looking at your own mortality in a different light.
A few years ago she gave me a plaque just like this one. It's always been a joke between us because I'm 2 weeks older than she is, which for me is funny because almost all my friends are older than I am. But the unspoken story was that we both knew what was coming, and that there was more truth to this joke than either of us ever wanted to admit.