Missing My Friend

14 Sep

Now that my daughter’s wedding is over. I have time to reflect on the other major event in my life.

Women have several best friends. I do not have just one best friend, I have several: different women who give me support, love, a sounding board, comfort, friendship, and family. I am fortunate to have many best friends: the women who have gone through life’s joys and challenges and have always been there for me, just as I have been there for them.

Right before my daughter’s wedding I lost one of my best friends to cancer. It broke my heart.  Every time someone we love dies, it takes a little slice of the heart. I have survived the deaths of my grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and even some friends. But this loss just breaks my heart.

My daughter said, “Mom I know you are so sad, but this is my wedding. Please focus on me and how happy I am.” So I had to push away my tears and focus on the joy of my daughter and future son-in-law. I needed to stop grieving and join the celebration.

The Friday before the wedding…two days before, my husband and I went to the funeral. How could I not go and say goodbye. I sat with another close friend. I held her hand and my husband’s hand as the funeral service progressed. Just as I was thinking ,“How will I get through the wedding.”   My friend turned to me and said, “What would she want? How would she act?” We both knew that she would want me to be so joyful at my daughter’s wedding.

We did not go to the cemetery. My husband and my friends insisted that I go home and get into wedding mode. I asked my close friend to shovel dirt for me. Even though I could not be there, I wanted to complete the act.

As we left the funeral, my friend’s husband rolled down the window of the limo to reach out to me. We spoke. I hugged him. Any other time in my life, I would have been there for him and their sons.

Another of my best friends called. She was preparing a shiva meal. And would put my name on it. There was no way I could go to any of the shiva services. I had the rehearsal dinner, the wedding and company throughout the holiday weekend. I felt the love of my friends to help me get through this bittersweet time.

My friend fought a battle with cancer. She was always gracious and strong. She was the kindest person. Everything was delightful in her world. I would ask, ‘Do you want to go for lunch?’ Her answer, “that would be delightful.” We would go out with her and her husband. Any thing I suggested would be delightful. When she chose the show or the restaurant, I in turn would say, “That would be delightful.” Delightful became one of my favorite words to use. It is so uplifting, just as she was to everyone.

It was not an act. She saw the world as a happy place. And her oh so happy attitude transformed people. She got things done. There was never a need for accolades and attention. If something needed to be done, she did it. Write a grant, organize lists of names, write letters, be there for a friend. Even when she was sick, she never stopped helping others.

Over the last year or so, she could not travel. Whenever I went out of town, she told me to send her photos. I sent many text messages with photos from throughout the country, Alaska, Canada, Seattle, New York, New Jersey, even the world: India, Israel, Italy, Spain. Wherever I went, she went with me.   I sent the most beautiful photo I took each day. She would respond with little messages telling me about her treatments and how things were going.

When I returned from a trip expecting to go and see her, she sent me a message.   She was going back into the hospital. “I just realized I never sent a welcome home,” she wrote. “The docs have decided to put me in the hospital… Sorry for the bad news. I am going this evening….”

So like her. Sorry for the bad news. She always thought about the ones who loved her. She knew it would hurt me that she was not progressing as well as we hoped. I visited her in the hospital. I visited her almost every week. I did what I could, as did her other friends.

But nothing really prepared me.

She called me three weeks before she died. She wanted me to come over with soup from our favorite deli. She was home alone. We spoke for two hours. It was our last visit. I cleaned the kitchen. I hugged her. I basically begged her to live to come to my daughter’s wedding. I knew it would not happen. But the thought of losing her was so very difficult.

I did not go back to see her. We continued to text back and forth for the next two weeks. I sent photos and long messages. She sent one or two words. Our last words, I said, “Love you.” She responded, “You too.” And that was the end. I kept sending messages even though I knew she would not/could not respond.

And now the wedding is over. My daughter and her husband have left town. Now I can grieve for my wonderful, delightful, kind, nice, bright friend. Only now can I open the box I kept in my heart during the wedding and cry.

Only now can I think about how much I will be missing my friend.

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8 Responses to “Missing My Friend”

  1. Sherry September 15, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    Cancer–sad, yeck, mad!! Brian Vanicky, brain cancer, died. Smart, funny. Cancer–R.I. P.

    • zicharon September 15, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      Doctors and medicine can do so much more then 30 years ago, but cancer still kills young people. Sad and mad.

  2. Amy September 15, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss, and may her memory bring you comfort. Life has a strange way of bringing us joy and heartbreak often at the same time. Perhaps it helps us appreciate each more deeply.

    • zicharon September 15, 2016 at 11:21 am #

      I think learning to deal with joy and sorrow together is something we learn as we age. A difficult lesson. Her name will be a blessing to many.

  3. HM in NJ September 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

    I am so impressed with how you walked the fine line between these two events that to me epitomize 2 (of several) contrasting parts of life. Well written and done. Thx for sharing.

    • zicharon September 15, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

      Thank you. It was difficult.

  4. Ester Katz Silvers September 15, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

    Ellen, on the way to meet Dikla’s family after she and Hillel became engaged, what was one of the happiest moment of my life, I spoke both to Daddy and my Uncle Max and both told me that my dear cousin, Harold, had been diagnosed with cancer. Three month later, less a week before the wedding, Daddy called with the bitter news Harold had died. My poor father had to choose between the wedding and the funeral and my uncle told him Harold would have wanted him to be at the wedding. Four days before the wedding Harold was buried. At the exact same time I was at a memorial for our close friend’s son who’d been murdered in a suicide bombing attack two years earlier. I cried my eyes out, more than I normally do, and I knew I was crying for Harold, getting all the tears out so I could be happy for my son. And i was happy for him. I still miss Harold and I still cry at the yearly memorial but i know that this is life; HaShem gives us joys and sorrows all mixed up and we have to learn when to celebrate and when to mourn and meanwhile remain thankful for all the blessings we have.
    So I think I understand where you were coming from as you put your grief on hold and were totally there for your daughter.
    May we know no more sorrow, Ester

    • zicharon September 16, 2016 at 7:14 am #

      Ester. I always learned that nothing stops a wedding And it has to be held with joy. I have heard from many who have had similar events, death and celebration. Thank you for sharing.

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