I drafted these posts a while ago and never published them. I wanted to run them by my friend first, to make sure she didn't mind (when in fact I knew full well that Mrs Positivity would have been horrified!).
Events rolled on, as events will, and I find myself still struggling to really get my head around the turn they took. So, although these are not in real time, I wanted to post anyway...
My best friend is dying and I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know how to be there for her - we are not in the same neighbourhood so popping round is hard, particularly with a toddler. Particularly when her primary illness meant that she would never be able to have a child of her own, even before this secondary slap in the face that means she may not see her next birthday. Particularly when time is precious and we want to talk and be together without a lively toddler demanding constant attention. And particularly as the niggly bugs and lurgies that seem to be part and parcel of life with a toddler could potentially lead to a major health crisis for her.
I don’t know how to deal with the emotions it has stirred up in me.
I want to tell her what she means to me and to spend time with her, but she is grittily upbeat and determined to focus only on being well and avoid all talk of ‘the T word’ which makes me hesitate. Telling her these things would feel like admitting that there may not be as much time as we hoped - assumed. And that feels like a betrayal of her steadfast courage and focus on recovery.
I’m angry. And sad – really, really sad. I feel strangely vulnerable, and scared - she’s only 6 weeks older than me. What have I done with my life? Not enough; not nearly enough. Am I leaving it a better place? Have I achieved anything of substance? I don’t think so.
I feel overwhelmed and paralysed and acutely aware of all the things I should do but don’t, or can’t.
So I text and email and leave voice mails. I draw & send little cards and think of suitable gifts – flowers, food packages, good-to-go meals – then worry that they will be inappropriate or somehow not quite right. I even set up a subscription to Macmillan Cancer Care. Mainly, though, I just feel bad.
Then I feel bad for feeling bad as I, after all, am not the one who is sick.
So I joined the gym, and fat club, and started to make a concerted effort to savour every day as I feel I owe it to her, and to myself, and my son and family to do everything I can to make sure I stay not-sick and actively happy for as long as possible. I’m drawing up notes and lists and firming up plans to take some of my long held dreams and ‘really should…’s off the to-do list and put them into practice. Because my best friend is dying, yet she has never lived more healthily, treatment aside has rarely looked better and is - for the most part - is as happy and sorted as I’ve ever known her. If she can do it I’d better think of a bloody good reason why I can’t do the same. So I should just get on with it.
Things I can do...
Be there as much as I can.
Let her know I’m thinking of her when I can’t.
Look after myself- all those things I know I should do, eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest, attend to any niggling health concerns.
Make a regular contribution to – or fundraise for – a relevant charity.
Join the organ donor register. (done)
Join the bone marrow donor register. (done)
Give blood (super easy, super important, have been a donor for years).
My best friend is dying and I don’t know what to do #2
Her health has taken the nose dive we feared. She is in hospital and I am not able to visit her, though I long to see her and talk with her as, I’m sure, do many of her friends old and new. Her family have, quite understandably, closed ranks and her mum is fiercely protective of her. Knowing my friend, this is as she wants it. She’s a shutdown kinda girl.
It is hard, though. I get regular updates on her health but have a million questions. How is she in herself? Is she still feisty? Still funny? Is the overwhelming sadness that I heard in her voice for the first time the last time we spoke still weighing on her or has she found an acceptance and a way through? Is she able to have the conversations she needs to have with those closest to her?
I hope so.
I send her texts and notes; send love and strength and hugs via texts to her mum. But my best friend is dying and I can’t reach her.
I don’t know what to do.
My best friend has died.
And I don’t know what to do.