This past Monday I watched one of my high school classmates and one of my best friends pass away from the ravages of pancreatic cancer. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had received a message that she wasn’t doing well so I went to her house and while I was there she progressively got worse and worse and the next thing I knew she was taking her last breath. To watch someone you love like a sister struggle to breath and then take their last mortal breath here on this Earth is absolutely indescribable.
I am a Christian, as is my friend and her family as well, and we all know that she is in Heaven with all of her loved ones that have gone on before her, but that does not diminish the pain and loss of those of us left here to deal with her daily absence in our lives. This has been especially hard on her precious Mother and her three brothers and two sisters. These people are like my second family and I feel their loss and pain deeply.
The family was visited by several of her co-workers all throughout the day Monday and were notified by one of her co-workers that she was THE most successful female ever in the business where she worked. That made all of them even more proud of this precious lady that was lying there in her beautiful bedroom struggling to live.
This woman was one of the most kind and loving people I know. She could do anything, and I do mean anything that she set her mind to do. I too am so very proud to learn that all thirty-three years of hard work that she put into her job paid off and she was so successful. Everyone that came by that day to say their goodbyes had nothing but praise and they all commented about how they had no idea how their headquarters could possibly function without her there any more. This company had graciously provided the means for her to work the last 5 months from her home, so she could take her chemo treatments and not have to worry about taking a medical leave. Not many companies are willing to do this kind of arranging for any employee, but as one co-worker put it “she is just almost indispensable, which is extremely rare to find in an employee now-a-days.” That’s a huge compliment in my book.
According to her co-workers, she was a superb employee and boss, but as a friend, I also knew her as a Mother. She was also a superb Mother to her only son. She and her beloved son almost died during childbirth, so she never tried to have any more children. She did everything she possibly could for her precious child and for all of her many, many nieces and nephews. Her older brothers and sister had grown up, married and had children even before we graduated high school. The nieces could only talk about the shopping trips with their favorite Aunt and how she would buy them anything they wanted, no matter the cost. They didn’t love their Aunt just because she bought them anything they wanted, but because on those shopping trips they could talk to her and she really related to what they were telling her. She never lost the kid in herself. That’s another fantastic thing about her that will be so terribly missed.
As happens when we all go our separate ways after we graduate high school, or college, she and I lost touch with each other for a couple of years. Then we found ourselves living about a half a mile apart and she was having a baby a year after I had my son. We reconnected with baby showers and other visits but ended up loosing touch again, with only seeing each other at school functions or in the doctor’s office every now and again. I had seen a comment on Facebook this past June about her being in the hospital and I had been thinking about her for several weeks, so I got in touch with her sister and that’s when I found out about her battle with cancer. She had only been diagnosed in May. I believe that God placed her on my mind so we could reconnect and I could possibly help give her the moral support she needed to fight this battle. At least I hope my staying in touch with her helped her in some small way.
I know there are far too many people in this nation and across the world that are dealing with situations just as devastating as this has been for us, but when it’s your family member or your close friend, then it seems like the tragedy is a little worse, at least to us it is.
I’ve learned that there are no certain symptoms to look for with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She had no symptoms what-so-ever other than a constant bout of nausea, that the doctor she was going to kept telling her was a stomach virus. He said she kept re-catching the virus once she would get over it. She tried to tell him she wasn’t getting over it and she had to finally get stern with him to force him to run the CT scan that ultimately discovered the mass on her pancreas. By that time the cancer had advanced to Stage 4, the worst possible case she could have been diagnosed with. She immediately requested to get into a research program with any experimental drugs that were available. She was willing to be a research subject so that if she couldn’t be helped maybe someone after her will be, by using what the doctors/researchers found out from her case. It wasn’t meant for her to be cured here on this Earth of this dreaded disease, but we know our prayers for healing were answered when she took that final breath in this Earthly body and left it to go be with our Savior, Jesus Christ and all of her family members that were there waiting on her.
She was there for me the morning that we were in junior college and I received a phone call from my mother that my beloved grandmother had passed away and I was so devastated I couldn’t move. I was curled up in the chair in the third floor dormitory lobby and sobbing my eyes out when I felt two arms just envelop me and she sat there and cried right along with me. She knew how much my maternal grandmother had meant to me all of my life and this friend that I had only known for about 3 years was crying along with me as if it were one of her family members that had passed away. That’s just the type of person she is. I will never forget that.
When we reconnected by phone back in June, not too many days after I called her sister, we were talking on the phone as if we were continuing a phone conversation we’d had a thousand times while we were either in our junior or senior year of high school. It really was a total joy talking with her again. I was looking forward to her beating this disease so I could come visit her in her new home and we could go shopping. She was so very proud that with her latest promotion, she got her own office and was finally making enough money that she could buy the home she always wanted and decorate it the way she wanted.
When I got to the house, Monday, after I went into the bedroom to speak to everyone in there and speak to my precious friend, I was asked if I wanted to see what all she had done to her beautiful home. She was always showing off her newly decorated home to her visitors. She was so very proud and after seeing all the hard work that went into the remodeling when she purchased the home, I understand completely why she was so proud. She did a marvelous job of decorating. She had a natural touch when it came to things like that and that’s one thing that made her such a success at her job.
We met when I moved to this small country town when my Daddy decided to retire from his construction job he had that moved us from state to state and city to city every year, if not more than once a year. He chose this town for the small town charm and the people here are super nice. I actually hated my parents for chosing this town because I wanted to live out West in the Rocky mountains. I didn’t care which state, just in the West somewhere. But after raising my three kids here, I’m glad Daddy chose this place after all. I don’t know that I would have found the type of friends I’ve had here anywhere else. The year we moved back was our junior year in school and I always had a terrible time making new friends when we would have to change schools. Meeting this friend and the others that she was friends with was the easiest thing I’d experienced in my entire life. We ended up being almost inseparable throughout the rest of high school and even went to junior college together. I wasn’t interested in returning to college so I quit and went to work in a factory, but our “group” stayed and they all graduated and went on to make a huge success of their lives and have made their Momma’s very proud. And for that I’m proud also.
I’m also very proud to know that she was also a Christian and we will meet again. I’m so thankful to her Momma for taking us all to church. If we stayed the night at her house on a Saturday night, then we were all always required to go to church the next morning, Sunday morning. Not many parents of teenagers back then were like that, but thankfully her Momma was. So I know that once we all get to Heaven, we will have an eternity together to worship and dance together for our Savior, Jesus.
Thank you dear friend for all the wonderful memories and especially just for being my friend. I already miss you terribly.
Until we meet again, God BLESS!!