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.