Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time Just Keeps Moving

I've been dreaming about you again; waking Richard up talking in my sleep. It's been 3 months and I am still finding myself, at times going breathless and wanting to shout, "Oh my God! she's gone! She's really gone!". I listen to the voice mail on my phone, just often enough that it doesn't delete; I don't want to forget the sound of your voice. The weeping is over; I just can't get use to not picking up that phone to share a laugh, a story, a bitch session, everyday life. Time just keeps on moving, life keeps on keeping on and I'm like "Wait, wait... we're missing someone special".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bestest Friends

I heard a comedian today, she talked about southern women and how we had "best friend". Everyone, she said, was our "best friends"; You know, how when you run in to someone and introduce them, "this is my best friend...." It didn't matter how long it had been since you had seen them or how often; they were really just acquaintances; but with southern women - well everybody is our best friend! I laughed out loud! I thought, my God she was following me and Cynthia around for her material! It used to amaze me the number of women you introduced as your "best friend", even to me. And as soon as they were gone, you would turn around and say to me, of course, "you're my best, best friend"! She sounded just like you! She said southern women have many best friends but they only have ONE "Bestest" friend. A "Bestest" friend is the kind that can look you straight in the eye and tell you the truth. One that is there for you through thick and thin. I couldn't have said it better. It's two days before Christmas and soon a New Year will begin without you. It is hard to go forward without my "Bestest" friend. I didn't realize just how important friends were; I should have cultivated more; maybe it wouldn't be so hard if I had. They only come around once in life, I think. You were my bestiest friend and everyone else seems fake. I'm not sure I know how to make new friends, the desire, the trust, or the energy. I miss you terribly my dear, dear "Bestest" friend.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Been A While

It's been awhile, I know. Frankly, I've been avoiding talking to you, for many reasons - mad, disappointed, hurt, sick, overwhelmed with my own life and problems, tired, sad, pissed - what did I leave out? It's two weeks before Christmas, so you know how hectic things are. What you don't know is all the things I've been going through with my health. It's been rough and looks like it's gonna be another rough year. The news has not been good. I really miss talking to you about all of this, the treatment plans and such; no one else understood like you. It's lonely here. My youngest is having a hard time with it all. She's sort of mad at me, you know, kinda of like I feel with you. She's afraid that I'm going to get much worse or die, not be there for all of her important events - wedding, children, etc. Especially since their not anywhere in her near future. She's kinda pissed. I get it. I understand it. I feel her pain. I'm kinda pissed too. I'm not so much worried about me not being here, I'm a pretty determined woman, I know how to fight, but am a little worried about my physical ability. I tried to reassure her, "I'll do my best to get better", I'll be there for you." I wish you had been able to be that strong. I'm mad because you simply weren't. You gave in. You couldn't say "no" to anybody and now I am without my friend when I really need her, you're missing your granddaughter and grandson grow up, you're missing the joys of Christmas and dirty martinis because you chose to - how's that working for you? Not working for me. I miss you and I'm pissed that you weren't stronger, that you aren't here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hectic Times

It's that time of year again! You know, the time of year you don't have time to breathe between cleaning, shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating the house, baking and entertaining family. Did I say cleaning? It has to be the most exhausting 2 months of the year! My God, how I miss having you to go shopping with me and get our little breaks! So many times, I find myself saying, Cynthia would love that! I will miss our ritual of exchanging our "favorite things" gifts at Christmas. We always put so much thought into those gifts. It always showed just how much we really "heard" each other, through out those long lunches. Some times it was a simple "I really like that...." and next Christmas, there it would be from one of us. Sometimes one of us would discover something and the other just had to have it. Giving gifts like that was fun and meaningful and appreciated. It is hectic, but know that a not a day goes by that I don't think of you.


It's Thanksgiving, well 2 days before and I'm doing my usual last minute running around getting ready for my family get together. It's our favorite time of year, good food and we get to catch up with all our kids. You and I always got together to and moan about all the work involved in pulling it off and how exhausted it left us! But we both loved having our families together. This year will be so different for me. Although I will have my family at my side and I'll get to hear how each of them are doing, see all the grandchildren and how they have grown, enjoy the food, do all the things we do each and every year; I won't get to rehash it all with you. I don't get to brag about the kids and grandkids or share my concerns, if there are any, with you or you with me. This Thanksgiving there will be no after Thanksgiving luncheon powwow at City Range where we compare notes and blessings. No, this Thanksgiving, I get to just experience it, digest it, savor it and truly be thankful for the time I have with my family and all we have to be grateful for in our lives. I'm sorry you're not hear with your family; I know they miss you, as I do. You will be at our table, because I will think of you and everything our friendship has meant to me, along with all the other blessings I have in my life, I will be thankful.

Not in Their Genetic Makeup

I'm trying to figure out what you would have done if things had been reversed. Here, this week has been tough at home, tensions running high, emotions raw, stupid arguments started and silent days and nights following. You remember those days. How many lunches did we have to discuss crappy days like that? Except you're not here for me to talk to now. Girlfriends are for that very thing - when our husbands just don't get it, can't get, won't get, don't want to get, incapable of getting it, because its not in their genetic makeup! I don't know how to explain this! I don't feel like I should have to! Yet, here I am - feeling guilty for grieving, still. I'm doing the best I can. What the hell?!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shopping Expeditions

Thanksgivings is next week, my birthday too. This is the time of year we spent a lot of time together. Right now we would be out shopping a Twiggs for decorations, your house, not mine. You would be fussing the entire time "Sheila, you need to buy this, that, it's such a good deal...." You always got so pissed at me because you spent all the money, while I 'window shopped". I on the other hand, thought you were crazy for paying the price for the things you bought. It was a dance we repeated over and over, no matter what store we were in. We always had fun with it and laughed a lot. You actually were fun to watch. And of course, I usually got a pretty good birthday gift out of all that shopping too! I'm missing you. I need to go shopping, believe it or not, for decorations! Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations! May be having my book club and their spouses over at Christmas and so I need to do a little more this year. You would be so excited and I can see you now, all the places you would be dragging me and all the people you would getting to help me. I can hear me now telling you "Cynthia, I'm not spending a fortune, don't take me to your expensive shops...." and you saying "I won't... but they'll give you a deal because ....." and hear we would go! It's going to be a boring shopping expedition without you. I wonder if I'll come back with anything?

"I am an Advocate For My Family"

I'm a Nurse, a Wife, a Mother, an Accountant, a Teacher, on and on we describe ourselves when someone ask us "What do you do?". What they mean, of course, is "What is your profession?". We often, particularly, as women, identify ourselves, with our vocation, our profession. It becomes our identity so that when we lose it, either through job loss, disability, like I did, or other reasons, we suffer from an identity crisis. For some, that is never an issue because they know what and who they are. There is no quibbling, no question, no hesitation. They state it with passion, with conviction and in way that those around take notice. So it was with Cynthia. Yes she was a nurse, a damn good one. However, that is not how she identified herself. On one of the multitudes of sympathy cards her family received, a woman who had met Cynthia many years ago at their children's middle school football game, shared she overheard a conversation between Cynthia and some other women on what a stay at home mom should say when ask the question "What do you do?". Cynthia's reply, as relayed in this card, had a profound impact on her and she has never forgotten it. Cynthia replied, emphatically and with great passion,"I am an advocate for my family!". She never wavered in support of her family, often neglecting her own needs. She knew who she was, what she wanted to do and she made no apologies. Her family was her life. What a wonderful legacy! "I am an advocate for my family"! she stated proudly, and so she was.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Things That Made US Laugh: State Boards

I need to stop crying! This is suppose to be about our friendship, not me. I needed this to help me remember you and all the times our lives were filled with laughter and joy because of our friendship. I wanted to walk down memory lane, smile and laugh out loud at the things we did together. Like, our trip to take nursing state boards in your tiny, green volkswagon beetle August 1977. I'll never forget our trip in that car! It had no air conditioning and it was the summer where temperatures soared to 105 degrees that year! I was 8 months pregnant with Jessica, having bracton-hicks contractions and I had a yeast infection! Miserable didn't even begin to describe my condition. We were both stressed completely out about taking boards, so tensions were high. We took our 2 day exam in a school, with no air conditioning, 105 degree temperature outside, sitting in hard ass, school desk chairs, all damn day! I thought I would die or deliver the baby before it was over. My face was blood red, my body and butt hurt and during breaks all you could do was laugh at how bright red my face was. You complained about how horrible the exam was while I whined and begged for God to take me, wallowing on the nearest window sill, for any air, as you laughed. In spite of your laughter, you did seem somewhat concerned about me going into labor! Our trip home was the most miserable trip on the planet! Sitting was so uncomfortable! Seat belts weren't mandatory then and I remember wallowing all over that front seat! Big, fat and 8 months pregnant, blood red in the face, whining, twisting, turning and moaning! I felt and looked like I was going to have a heat stroke! The only thing that kept me sane was our laughter! All I wanted to do was get home but No, you had to stop and get something to eat! As I recall, it was kentucky fried chicken. I remember I wanted to strangle you over that stop! My mind was on home! I whined, you laughed, then I'd laugh, all the way home. It's amazing that we both scored nationals on our boards. The trip, as miserable as it was, always made us laugh when we remembered it. I never see a volkswagon that I don't break out into a smile, remembering. It was our very first trip together.....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Been a Hell of A Week

It's been a hell of a week. A scandal with one of our most prominent plastic surgeons in town; A terrorist attack on our own US Army base, killing 12 of our own soldiers, wounding 31; Your birthday; and to top it all off I'm going to have another bronchscopy, because my repeat cat scan came back with no improvement!!!! I have felt like screaming! I've wanted to pick up the phone a thousand times to gossip about the scandal, rave about the imbeciles in Washington and the liberals who have made us a bunch of pussies! I'm so sick of political correctness, I think I'll puke! I've cried for days because you're not here to rant, rave, laugh and cry with! I'm angry as hell that you're in that stupid box! Where, by the way, I can still see you! I was so distraught yesterday at your grave, in the cold and the rain, sitting there beside you, the ground sinking from all the rain; I felt desperate. The ground was cracking around you, and just for a moment, I wanted to start digging, "Get up, get the fuck up"! And today, my doctor hits me with the bronchscopy. We may end up having to do an open lung biopsy, if things don't improve soon. You were my RN advocate, my go to girl. You understood the lingo. Now what? Too much is going on here. I need my friend. I really need my friend.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday

I went to our favorite hang out tonight to toast you on your birthday. You would have turned 56 today. There were no funny cards today, no jokes about you being older than I am, no laughter and wise cracks and moans about the hell of aging going back and forth. But you were there. No, you get to be the forever younger one, from now on. It was harder than I thought it was going to be; going back to our favorite place, ordering our favorite drink. Walking up to the door, my chest tightened, my breathing was difficult; I stilled myself because I was meeting your daughter. We were going to wish you a happy birthday together. I wanted to get there ahead of her, just to give myself a moment. I knew it might be tough. The first person I saw was our waitress; the one that always waited on us. She smiled that big, happy smile and said, "Hey Girl! you meeting your friend?" and I lost it. "My friend died. It's her birthday. I'm here for her birthday", was all I could get out as I wept, out in the open, out in the middle of City Range. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk, my heart hurt, everything looked so familiar, yet I knew it would never be the same again. She embraced me right there as I waited on your daughter, then lead me to our table. She was shocked and saddened and tears filled her eyes as we reminisced about our times there. She offered to get me a drink and I lost it again. It took me several tries before I could get the words out through the tears but I ordered, just the way we always did: a vodka martini, up dirty, very bruised with 3 blue cheese olives. They did an excellent job. Although, I'm sure you would said they cheated you on the amount, they didn't bruise it enough and could you get 3 more olives! Boy, how I miss you. You were there though. Your daughter came, she looked so much like you. Tonight, she even acted like you - from asking to put her chicken salad in their refrigerator, taking the bread home, a card that didn't work and even a to go water. It was deja vu all over. It was a nice birthday. You were toasted, you were honored. You were loved.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Second Generation Friendships

Here's to second generation friendships! Who knew that sitting across from her daughter and getting to know her, sharing stories about my friendship with her mom and our life together could create such a healing bond for both of us. I helped bring this child into the world; I remember Cynthia in the labor room; I have pictures of this adorable little girl dancing on an ottoman at my daughter's birthday party. This is a child that Cynthia and I often discussed, along with my children. Across from me, however, sits not a child but a grown woman, a mother, now a new friend. We are navigating a new world without her mom, my friend and we're discovering things about her that neither of us knew, things about each other and more importantly something about ourselves. I believe we will be good friends. Cynthia should be proud. She did a good job, a great job. Thank you Cynthia for sharing your daughter with me. I will take care of her. I will be her advocate.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Men Can't Be Best Friends

Men cannot be your best friend! They want to be. You want them to be. But the reality is they don't have it in them to be the kind of best friend we, as women need. Why? Because they can't stand to sit and truly listen to the details, the reams of information, nonsense, gossip, drama and minutiae that one simple story, one phone conversation; hell, a simple statement someone made, can bring on! They don't get it! For women and their best friends, it's all in the details! The details, connect us. It's what can keep us enthralled in each others lives, makes us feel like we're not alone, that someone else has been down that road before; We're looking for that "I can't believe that... " I know it must be terrible... or "you are right!", " You go girl!". Best friends know when to listen, speak up in defense, show empathy or sympathy, kick our butts, cheer us on or advise us. But NEVER does a best friend say "Just cut to the chase." or "I don't care about the details...", especially as they are walking out of the room because they really aren't interested in the minutiae of the day to day stuff that often occupies our phones conversations, lunch hours and after hours cocktails! No, men say they want to be our best friends and I believe they mean it when they say it. They just don't speak the language!!!

Conversations Meant for My Friend

Here's the thing. Having others read your inner most thoughts and conversations that were meant for your best friend feels like a betrayal and disloyalty. It feels kinda of like you've left the window drapes open and all the world is watching you undress a little more each night. You don't notice it, at first, because you're so caught up in feeling lost, that you just keep going. Then suddenly, one night, you notice the light slicing across your shoulder from the window and you feel EXPOSED, NAKED. It dawns on you. Others are watching, listening, reading over your shoulder. And all of a sudden, you find yourself conflicted, wanting to monitor your words. To stop talking. To be quiet. To not betray confidences. I'm feeling that. I find myself wanting to draw the blinds. I miss my friend.

A Wonderful Place For Healing

I'm sitting here on the balcony with the ocean wind blowing through my hair; the smell of the salty air strong, the feel of it making my skin feel sticky. It is so beautiful and calming. The sun is casting the most stunning light across the ocean as the waves break against the shore. It feels like breathing to me. The colors of the water is blues and teals and the surface smooth and wavy. I love to watch as the waves ripple, lazily toward the shore and at the last moment, with great fanfare, throw themselves against the sand, white foam spreading everywhere. It reminds me of my emotions. Raw. One minute calm, the next angry, crying, crashing. It is hypnotic, soothing and comforting. The sounds of the segulls as they dive down and dance across the sand make me feel like I am being serenaded and yesterday, a beautiful rainbow graced the sky above the ocean! I thought it might be you Cynthia, smiling down. The Beach is a wonderful place for healing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Headed Out

Well we're heading out. The last time I was at the beach I actually went with Cynthia. It's been quite a while but we had a blast. Just the two of us. It was a long weekend of girl talk, shopping, fine food, late nights on the decks with drinks in hand, reading a good book on the beach and plain old girl time. We even tried bike riding but only once. I'm not a fan. Besides, my idea of exercise is a good walk on the beach or yoga. My knees, ass and lungs can't take those bikes. And besides, Cynthia and I couldn't carry on a conversation and peddle at the same time, so to hell with that. Talking was more important. Oh and of course, there were the usual events that always occurred whenever Cynthia and I were around. This time is was the two of us trying to wrestle a beach umbrella into the sand on a very windy day. Both of us are barely over five feet and are small women, not a good recipe for success! But we're but very hard headed and determined! We did manage to get it into the ground, settled into our chairs, very proud of our selves, picked up our books, when a sudden gust of wind picked it up and away it went! Across the sand our huge, open umbrella went hurling toward other people lying on the beach, unaware of their fate! Cynthia and I were screaming and running in hot pursuit! Who came to the rescue, you ask? Two very nice, very, OLD gentlemen;They stopped the umbrella before it hit anyone and then put it securely into the ground for us, all the while Cynthia flirted and chatted them up like they were 30 and two young bucks that had just saved two southern damsels in distressed! I have pictures to prove it!!! The southern honey dripping off of her was ridiculous! We laughed our asses off! Those two men walked off a lot taller than when they first arrived. She had that effect, when she wanted to. I'll think of her this week, no doubt but I know she will be with me. I will feel her in the ocean winds around me, the sun on my face and the laughter I hope will come.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling Good Today

I'm feeling good today. I'm spending the day cleaning my house, doing laundry and packing my bags. I'm going to the beach! Cynthia and I were suppose to go on the 17th of this month for a week, take our bichons and just chill. We were really looking forward to getting away. I am sorry we didn't have that time together; but I am going with my husband, my two precious bichons, Cooper and Piper and I will do my best to chill in her honor! Perhaps I will introduce my husband to a dirty martini, although I know he will hate it; he prefers something much more sedate. I will take long walks and breathe fresh air and let my husband and my dogs and the beauty of the beach help me find my smile and my belly laugh and a good nights sleep once again. Maybe she will be there with me, after all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Am Numb

Okay, so I am sad. No make that melancholy - Webster's defines it as a deep, pensive, long-lasting sadness. I don't feel like talking much. I don't feel like making love. I don't feel like going places. Don't feel like doing much of anything. Occasionally, I get in somewhat, flight (run away) mode and will go out and shop; buy stuff I normally would say no to. I eat because I'm bored or it's time to, not because I'm hungry. I sleep only with aid and then fitfully. I read. I clean house. I walk and groom my dogs, which I find soothing. Otherwise, I feel numb. I feel like that those around me are looking at me and saying to themselves, "You should be getting past this, I mean I know she was your best friend but it wasn't like she was your sister or your daughter. Come on you still have your family, your husband, your children and grandchildren; you need to start living!" Well, what do I say to that without sounding ungrateful for the love of my life and my beautiful children and grandchildren, of which I am profoundly grateful. How do I explain that one has nothing to do with the other. I feel numb. I feel numb. How do I explain that solitude and silence is a blessing right now because it doesn't require anything of me. I am numb. For the love of God, just let me be numb for a while. Let me be. Let me be.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rambling Phone Messages

Do you ever find yourself wondering what people are thinking when they leave rambling messages on your voice mail? Do you ever make a smart comment about it? I can remember saying as I listened to Cynthia sometimes "For the love of God!". I would tell her "You ramble on and on....". I wish I could hear her rambling messages. Usually, I erased them before completely listening to them, because I was already dialing her number. I can't sleep. She has been on my mind all day and now I'm laying in bed remembering all of those rambling phone messages she always left on my phone! Sometimes it was several because she couldn't locate me, immediately. "Sheila, Where the hell are you, when I need you?" Why aren't you answering your phone?". " You would not believe the day I've had!" "Call me, damn it!". Sometimes she would be crying, distraught over some crisis or sisterly dispute or some perceived wrong and just wanted to vent. "Sheila, call me, I need you". In those instances, the messages would go on until the tape nearly ran out. She could never just say "Give a call"; that would have been too simple. Sometimes she would call laughing out loud " you are not going to believe this! I have the funniest thing to tell you! Call me!" I could never not call her back as fast as I could. She was just one of those essential people that required my immediate attention. She was important in my life. I looked forward to hers calls even when they rambled. I am wishing I had hadn't erased her last message; it was a long one, quite funny. I just want to hear her voice, talking to me. I have a voice message , on my cell phone, she left her son, that I listen to but it's not the same, it's his; I feel like I'm eavesdropping. She's not talking to me. But at least I still get to hear the sound of her voice. I am afraid of forgetting that sound. Damn it Cynthia, where the hell are you when I need you? Call me , damn it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'll be Your Friend

People we knew together hug me and tell me that they know they can't replace you but that they will be my friend now. "Call me, We'll go to lunch. I'll be your friend." I know they mean well. I know they know I am lost. But how do you do that? I don't know how to make friends, I never have. I wish I had developed the social skills that you had Cynthia. I remember being amazed at how you just came bounding up to me in the admissions office that day. No hesitancy, no shyness, no wariness or distrust. Just "HI, what's your name? I'm Cynthia. I'm engaged!" In 5 minutes I knew more about you than I had shared about me with anyone,ever! I watched you over the next 37 years do that over and over again. I was both awe inspired, shocked and at times thought you had lost your mind. I always said you could and would talk to a sign post. I will never forget, during our single days (between husbands), the time we walked in to a waffle house, around 1:00 am; There were no seats left in the place, except one lone bench on the other side of the table from a very homely, unkept, not exactly clean, man. I wanted to leave but NOOOO, you were hungry! And much to my shock and surprise you went up to the man "Do you mind if we share your table? There are no other tables available and we're hungry!" Needless to say, he couldn't say "yes" fast enough! I'm not sure how long I stood with my mouth open and my eyes bulging, in shock, but by the time I sat down, the two of you were already fast into a conversation about his life. I don't remember uttering a word other than to order, I just sat and watched in wonder as you commiserated with this man. In less than 10 minutes you knew his wife had left him, knew about his job loss, his health history and you both had a common distant relative!!!!! I remember asking you when we left 'Are you insane?! You would talk to a sign post!" Your reply was "Well, we needed somewhere to sit and bless his heart! I really felt sorry for him!" Maybe it was your genuine compassion and concern for people, your nurturing nature that drew all people to you. You made friends so easily. I on the other hand was and am more reserved. I find it harder to trust people, especially with my inner soul; You were the first and only friend that I have ever trusted. You were my soul sister. I never saw the need to expand that universe. One friend was all I needed. Sometimes, more than I could handle as life got in our way. I never put much faith in superficial friends or acquaintances, never saw the need. Occasionally, when I was working, I enjoyed lunch or dinner but never desired to attempt the deeper connection of true friendship. I didn't need to, I had you, Cynthia. I should have watched more closely, learned just a little. You could work a room; you could get people to open up and talk and talk and talk, just spill their guts and afterwards each and everyone of them felt like they had a friend. So many people called you friend. Wherever I went, when your name came up faces lit up, smiles broadened, out loud laughs were exchanged. "She is so funny"... "She is the sweetest person"... "She will talk you to death"... "She helped me...". "She delivered my baby, my grandbaby.......". There were certain truths about you everyone knew: you were a talker; you would hold court where ever you were; you would give the shirt off of your back to help someone, anyone; you like to shop; you made friends as easily as you breathed and you were a loyal friend. But those were things that those friends knew. I knew you. I knew what time you got up, how you liked your coffee, what your politics were, what type of books you like to read, your favorite shops, I knew your deepest darkest secrets and fears and hopes, I knew your entire history for the last 37 years and you knew mine. We could finish each others sentences and had ESP feelings when things weren't right. So tell me what am I suppose to do now, Dial a friend?

Among Friends

You were among friends today. Old friends. Friends from Same Day Surgery. Diane, Kim and Sherry met me for lunch today. It was so good to see all of them. I brought them pictures of you from Rachael's wedding to show them and we talked about you. It was nostalgic and made me remember so many times and events, in my mind. Hiring you, my best friend, was probably not the best decision I ever made. It is difficult to supervise your best friend. You, it was nearly impossible! I am smiling as I write this remembering the time I brought you and Jeanie in to reprimand you and told you both you either had to "ship up or shape out!" I remember all three of us just losing it in laughter at me screwing that up! Hard to keep your credibility up as a manager when you can't even scold someone without talking backwards! You were at times a pain in the ass but I never wanted you to work anywhere else. You were a good nurse. You were liked by all. You did a good job. You were missed today among friends.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Whine Companion

I miss my whine companion, complaint buddy, my nurse consultant, my health advocate, my advisor and friend. I have been sick since the first of October. I have "spots" on my lungs. I am hoarse; I am fatigued; I really feel like shit and I'm frustrated. I need to bitch. I need to complain. I need to discuss this damnable disease process and all the testing and ridiculous course of treatment that they (the doctors) have me on and just how frigging tried I am of all of it! This isn't new. I've been down this road before; it is a tough road and Cynthia has always been there. She was my advocate, my consultant, My peer with whom I could discuss the medical details with and she would understand. She was my cheer leader, my friend. We would whine to each other for hours. Sometimes on the phone, sometimes for lunch or over an afternoon dirty martini at City Range. We would spend the first half hour on my latest whine and then the second half on hers. After all, share and share a like. We had gotten to the age that aches and pains were creeping into our daily conversations; it had become somewhat of a joke. We laughed often about the change in our conversations. But some days were meant to be whine days, days that you needed your friend to tell you "everything is going to be okay", "I think you need to do this", "That doctor is a dumb ass!", or just plain "hang in there, you're going to feel better, real soon and when you do will go for a dirty martini". Today is one of those days. I miss you Cynthia.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fremont Avenue

Fremont Avenue was the first apartment I had. I moved into the second story of an old, old house in a rather suspect side of town my first year of nursing school,at age 18. It had one bedroom, one kitchen, a bathroom,across the hall,no closets, only 2 small wardrobes. It was heated by small gas heaters you had to light each time. Insulation was not this old house's stong suit but I loved it's character and the independence it gave me. I was the only tenet upstairs.I walked or rode the city bus everywhere I went, including to the University of South Carolina. That is, until Cynthia. In this delightful place that holds some of my most fondest memories, began mine and Cynthia's adventures. And boy, did we have them! She loved the fact that I was independent and living on my own, so of course it wasn't long before she decided she wanted to move in with me. I thought it would be great to have her around. We were already fast friends, inseparable at school and besides, she had a car - of sorts, a blue Nova. The only draw back I saw was that Cynthia was somewhat of a clothes horse. She was always immaculately dressed; always so fashionable and gorgeous. I on the other hand, had little money to spend on clothes, much less the style she seem to carry herself with and I had only two small wardrobes! I told her "Cynthia, you cannot bring all of your clothes! There is no room for them. I only have two small wardrobes and no dressers, nothing! You have to be sensible!" She of course swore that she understood and she promised she would pack lightly. She wanted so much to move in. It was going to be so much fun! Moving day arrived and lo and behold Cynthia drove up in her little blue Nova and pranced around the car with a big grin on her face. I looked in the car and saw just a few boxes, I said "I am so proud of you!" She got this sheepish grin on her face and said "well....," as she stuck the key to the trunk in her car - it actually exploded into the street!! Clothes spewed everywhere! It happened so fast and furious, we both collapsed in the street, laughing so hard we cried! I don't remember how long we stayed rolling in the street (literally) with laughter but even today it makes me smile. I can still today, very vividly, see that whole scene unfold on Fremont Avenue. Needless to say, we bought an extra clothes rack, which sat in the kitchen, to hold Cynthia's clothes. That was the beginning of many, many belly laughs. There is still no one that can make me laugh like Cynthia did. Fremont is where I discovered her penchant for pretty things, especially home decor. I remember the very next week coming home to a new table cloth, candles, little decorations to brighten our little apartment up. I was the practical one,as long as my apartment was clean, I kept my money. Cynthia, on the other hand was the Martha Stewart, she wanted things to look pretty. It would be a trade mark of Cynthia's. She would decorate every apartment and home she ever lived in, wheather she had the money or not. I can remember her actually carpeting an apartment once because she didn't like the floor! Wednesdays at Fremont Avenue became hamburger helper night; we really out did ourselves on those nights. It would be years before either of us perfected cooking or Cynthia would own hundreds of cooks books! We nearly blew each other up lighting the gas furnace in the bathroom, both ending up with singed hair and eyebrows! We fought over how to make up a bed correctly, we learned how to share a small space, how to juggle work, school, pay bills and lovers. In that old, old, cold house on Fremont Avenue, with little heat and no modern conveniences, no TV, no computer, very little money, nothing but me and my friend - we built the foundation of our friendship out of laughter and love and adventure - it was the best time of my life!

Monday, October 19, 2009

There Were No Flowers

I visited her grave today, for the first time. I was certain I knew exactly which hill she lay and which tree would give her shade. But as I got out of my car, I saw nothing but old, artificial flower vases lining the landscape. Although pretty, they were not the new, the fresh, the big bouquets of flowers or greenery I was sure would grace her new grave. I was certain flowers would cover it; Surely, I would still see the mound of earth that was still just a little bit greener and rounder than the others. But my eyes sought out the flowers that I knew had to be there. After all there were hundreds, more than 500 people they say, who came to pay their respects; family overcome with loss, friends untold; it was her 23rd anniversary yesterday............Of course there would be flowers, fresh, new flowers! I crested the hill and walked up to a barren grave, a dry patch of grass, with no marker and THERE WERE NO FLOWERS! No remnants left over from the funeral to show, no empty vases, only a few discarded white cards that must have come off of some arrangement somewhere. It was obvious, maybe, that the grounds crew had cleaned up the old, dead flowers,as they are suppose to do. And I realized the winter is setting in and so the grass will turn brown and die. The marker is being made and not there yet but there were still no flowers. Nothing. Nada. No sign that my beloved friend who lit up my world was resting there. So I left and went to the nearest store and I bought a bouquet of purple flowers and I took them and I lay them on her grave. Today she has flowers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Distressed: Defined by the dictionary as "suffering from anxiety, sorrow or pain". For me and Cynthia it was our moniker, our nickname; Acquired very early in our friendship. We joked about always being distressed, stressed out. We, in fact, had vanity license plates made for our cars. Mine said "Distressed", Hers "Distress". For those who knew us and know us still, especially Cynthia, this needs no explanation. For those who don't, it's simple. Everything was a crisis to us, especially Cynthia! She was such a drama queen! No matter how small or big or inconsequential, it was soooo distressing! The words "You wouldn't believe......" could captivate you for an hour of drama with her animated tale of whatever had happened. Early on it was usually school,men and parents. As our lives evolved it became, men, work, family, children, just life in general. But we were always on the phone to each other lamenting about our day or night or whatever. As we got older, it became lunches and after work drinks and the latest, our favorite the "dirty martini happy hour". "You will not believe the day I have had!", is often how she started a conversation, even if I had been the one to call. I smile, now, remembering, no matter what my "crisis" was, Cynthia could always top it with her "crisis". We spent hours/years bitching, moaning, problem solving, politicking, sympathizing and just plain laughing out loud at life. The moniker still fits but it feels different now.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Hair. I got mine done today. It was a hard appointment to keep because we went to the same salon. She actually got her hair done the day before she collapsed. I introduced her to my stylist. Her hair was her most noticeable feature, the most recognizable. Everyone who knew her knew her hair. She had beautiful, thick, full, long blond hair when we met and had cut it very short her last appointment. All except the top, never the top- you had to have the height! Boy did she ever mess with her hair! She spent countless hours primping and coiffing her hair. She never left a salon that she didn't immediately put her hands in her hair and start redoing what she had just paid a small fortune to be done! And of course you had to have the products! And the head bands that she wore! My! how she could make a head band look good! My hair just looked flat! Farrah Fawcett had nothing on Cynthia! I can see her tossing her hair around, primping as I write! Her Hair was the one thing in the end that we knew, her daughter and I, had to look just right. We ran our fingers through her hair, gave her plenty of height, just like she loved it. It was a beautiful moment to share. It was beautiful. It is what made her look most like herself as she lay there for all to say their goodbyes. I think she would have been pleased.

The World Without you

The world without you seems so quiet; so still; so lonely. I found myself in flight mode today, feeling panicky - I wanted desperately to pick up the phone and call you. There is so much going in my life right now, things that we would normally be talking non stop about. You would be giving me your wanted and unwanted advice. Then I'd sit back and listen to all going in in your life. We would probably be doing all of this at least once at City Range over a dirty martini. I actually thought about going there by myself today to have one just for us but I didn't think I could hold it together. I look around me and everyone seems to be getting on with their day to day as though nothing has happened. Life just moves on. And while I know that it must, for me, the world seems terribly empty today without you. I find it hard. So, I go shopping. Sometimes it's just window shopping, today it was pet clothes shopping. Mostly mindless shopping, something that keeps me moving and not missing my friend. I miss you Cynthia. The world is not the same.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It Seems Like Yesterday

It seems like yesterday that she waltzed up to me in the school admissions office. "Hi, What's your name?" I'm Cynthia!" "I'm engaged!", as she threw out her hand for me to see her ring. We went on to discover we were both enrolled in the nursing program. We would be taking the same classes together and I honestly don't think, not only did I not get many words in, but she never shut up! She was so full of life, sunshine and smiles. She was absolutely beautiful and just the way she interacted with everyone around her, and I mean everyone, was fun to watch. People were drawn to her. You found yourself smiling both in amusement and amazement. She became the flamboyant one, I was the quiet "studious" one. We were 18 years old and beginning a friendship, closer than sisters,  that would span a total of 37 years, 5 husbands, 6 children, 3 step-children, 10 grandchildren and 3 very special bichon frieses.   An friendship of a lifetime.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We Were Suppose To Grow Old Together!

I dreamt last night  I walked into a room, and there she sat, in a chair, waiting to explain everything to me. Overcome with joy and sadness, "How could you leave me? We were suppose to grow old together!" I cried as I knelt by the chair.

She looked at me and reached out, "I know, I know, I just didn't know, I felt a little like I was gonna throw up, kept thinking I needed to get up, I was sooo tired.........."

Then I wake from my dream. I'm upset. I wasn't finished. There was so much I wanted to ask her. I want to know what happened! Was she in pain? Did she take anything? What was she thinking about as she drifted off? Could she hear us? See us at the hospital? Did she see the hundreds of people who came to show their love for her? What is it like? What am I to do, now? We were suppose to grow old together! We were going to out live our husbands, see all our children married, successful and happy.

We were going to spend our golden years somewhere tranquil ( the beach) or maybe travel (if our health held up, which wasn't likely) laughing our asses off at all the things we had done over the years. We always laughed big belly laughs, good for the soul. Will I ever laugh like that again? We were suppose to grow old together- now it's just me- I don't know how to do this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

16 Days and Counting

It's been 16 days since receiving the call telling me my best friend,  life long best bud, closer than a sister,  go to gal, bitch buddy, shoulder to cry on, my laugh out loud friend, long ago room mate, nursing school study mate,  labor room co-worker - deliverer of all my babies, and my up dirty, very bruised, vodka martini with blue cheese olives, and "no skimping on the vodka," friend was found unresponsive at home with no pulse, no breath. She's on life support, "please come."

I had talked to her a few hours before, detecting no sign of doom. Given no hint, I was unable to stop the freight train barreling toward us. There would be no second chances to say more than I did on our last phone call, and  no more dirty martini's. We shared our last on Sept. 25th, 2009.

This is about getting through these last 16 days, and remembering the last 13,505 she was my friend. I've never known anyone like her. That we remained close, devoted to each other, through so many changes in both our lives, and the world is a testament to our friendship. A rare friendship, indeed. And now, I'm trying to navigate in a world missing something huge, a daunting task.