“Well Doc, I think this is it.”
So said my Loyal Reader, reduced to maybe 80 pounds, her hands looking more like a bird’s foot than the hand that held a champagne glass. Her breathing supported by both a tube to her nose and a mask over her mouth wasn’t labored, and she apologized for the getup being awkward.
Her blue eyes were ringed indigo and bored straight into mine. “I am glad you came. I wanted to say goodbye.”
My Spouse–away in NYC–had called the night before, telling me that she only had a few days left. I felt like I was hit in the stomach. It was dumb to be shocked–she had stage iv colon cancer, prognosis is lousy.
Except she had me totally fooled. She had me convinced that she was going to kick this cancer-thing. Even after she lost the month of August when she was sedated and intubated–she was mad that it took her so long to regain the strength and to relearn to walk. She had been back and forth with chemo and radiation and surgery for two years. She decided that she was going to do whatever she could to get better, and it was working.
I walked in to her postage stamp sized room and saw her kids and husband crowded inside were wearing yellow hospital garb. I retreated as instructed and donned the disposable gown. I clumsily kissed her cheek, then her hand, and then her husband who looked so so so sad. I was thinking about pork roasts at her house and burnt ribs and blue martinis at my house. And my crewe, who earned the reputation of always leaving their house as the last guests, very late.
And then the times when she would tell me to be less cynical (Doc, think!), tell me that the Republicans didn’t have it all wrong (she worked for the RNC as a designer–not a believer–long before my foray into a Republican administration), and, most importantly, remind me that when my kids were in trouble that my job was to love them.
She was a good role model. She loved her kids–they had the best birthday parties and halloween costumes. She nurtured their creativity and embraced each of them for who they are. She raised three of the best people I know.
She was my most normal friend–not a D.C. type who was driven in that Washington kind of way. She would sit with me and drink beers at Redskins games while we chattered through 4 quarters of football. What was that score? She would tell me that I did something stupid, or ask me “Why?” when nobody else would.
I am glad that I told her that I love her every time I saw her. I am glad that I told her I love her last week. And I am so glad, and so fortunate, that she loved me.
She asked that we celebrate her life and have a party. I miss her.
Kris, this is for you,