I promised something creative everyday, and today that something is for death.
Perhaps you haven’t experienced this yet (and I love if you haven’t), but I know many have had that moment when they walk outside, the world rushes about its business, and you want to shout, “Hey! But someone is missing today! How can you act as if nothing has happened?”
That’s how I felt when my mom died. I walked around in shock, understanding that of course the world went about its business even when I had a gaping wound in my heart.
I spent 2013 going through cancer treatment. Many amazing friends helped me in various ways. One friend went out of her way to bring me food from my favorite deli. She brought her infant with her, and we talked about her upcoming move to Dallas, her plans, her family. Years before, she’d been an early cheerleader of my work, telling me to set up a Facebook page to get my work out there. (This was in the super early Facebook days.) She came to my very first show. We were very different in many ways, but that never seemed to matter.
A few years after her move to Dallas and the birth of her second daughter, she contacted me. She had cancer. So we talked. She had questions. She was at least ten years younger than me. She was worried, but we were fairly optimistic. Surely they’d caught it early. She’d get through it.
But then she learned she was stage 4.
I was shocked. How long does it even take to get to stage 4? How long had cancer been working its way through her body?
When my mom died suddenly of an aortic aneurism, I spent an incredible amount of time thinking about how the body can be killing you, and you won’t know it. Until you do because you collapse at work. Or when you’re stage 4.
I still think about this a lot even though they tell me I’m cancer free.
My friend very much didn’t want to leave her daughters. She said so just three weeks ago.
Back in February, when she heard my son had a terrible 18th birthday (it’s tough to turn 18 in the middle of a record-breaking snowstorm when you have no heat, no power, and no internet for several days), she insisted on sending him a bit of money so that he could do something fun. I know she and her husband had plenty of medical bills. She sent the money anyway.
One thing that would make me laugh back when we worked together was how she had no poker face. We had a colleague who tended to ask ridiculous, unnecessary questions that would make the meetings drag on. She had no patience for it, and you could always tell.
I can’t claim to be in her closest circle of friends. We didn’t talk often, and I was never able to see her once she moved to Dallas. Facebook has its issues, but at least it helps us keep in touch.
July 1st was her last Facebook post. She posted a memory of her children and (ever supportive) a link to a friend’s company.
Today my friend died.
I went outside and looked at the sky. It’s hot here and the blue sky was so bright. I thought of her two little girls and her husband. They will go out into the world, and everyone will be rushing about. The sun will be shining. I imagine they will wonder how the world can be as it is, but they are so irrevocably changed. “Stop! Can’t you see? Someone is missing today?”
Thank you for reading.