Monday, August 13, 2012

Leaving Something

I have talked here before about a friend of mine who is fighting cancer. The fight doesn't look fair anymore. I guess that, without realizing it, this is what's had me in this mood lately.

When I went over to see my girlfriend the other day, she looked as if she was making her peace with things. I hate that. I don't want her to "make peace." I want her to keep fighting. She isn't. She is getting ready for something. I asked her if this was so and she said that we should all be making our peace. This is the same friend who told me a truth about dying when she said that we all want to see Jesus, but none of us wants to die. It scares me now that she seems more ready to meet Jesus than she ever did.

So, what happens when it's over? The body will be empty and cold. What's left? My friend had thought of this. She told me that what she wants more than anything is that, after she is gone, for the people who loved her not to be sad. She wants to believe that we will remember not that she "left" us, but what she left us.

We didn't talk for hours the way we used to. Her daughter is taking care of her and she told me when I got there that her mother sometimes just fades out. How selfish am I that I didn't want to be there when she started "fading?" I was scared that it would be the last time. I don't want to be there for that.

What I want to remember about my friend is how she laughed loud all the time, but it never seemed like an unladylike thing for her to do. When she laughed, everyone around her wanted to laugh, and we all wanted her to keep laughing. She has a great laugh: silly and high-pitched. (And why do I slip back and forth talking about her in the past and present tense?)

I want to remember the fun we had. Like the time that when we were younger and I borrowed my father's car for us to go out in one night. We went by the Cattle Company (when it used to be a real hot-spot here in town) and cruised the parking lot, flirting with guys and seeing what the competition looked like. We passed by one group and I almost ran over a guy's foot. My friend, of course, did that screaming laugh of hers.

When I tried to reconcile with my first husband and things weren't going well, my friend was going through her own divorce. One night, after a fight with David, she and I went down to Jamico's (another "spot" back in the day), ordered nachos and sat in the parking lot, drinking Jack and Coke out of the soft-drink cans. I got so fucked up that we had to sit out in the cold lot for a couple hours before I'd left my friend move the car.

There are a lot of things I don't have clear memories of. I had to ask my sister about some of the things that went on "back in the day." My sister's best memory was of a dance contest. There was a hangout downtown in the lounge of the Holiday Inn. My sister and I both liked to go there. I'd be there with my friends and she and her friends would kind of absorb us into their group. One night, there was a dance contest. You'd couple up with anybody and take turns dancing down the middle of the line of other people. My friend and I had ten years on my sister and her friends. We kicked ass, but my friend slid down on something and almost brought down forty people with her. Hilarious.

If my friend leaves me, she is leaving me with so much. I can't even out into words the times she made me laugh or smile when I just didn't want to laugh or smile ever again. She is the only female friend I have who had a habit of kissing me on the mouth when we said "Hi" and "Bye." She is the friend who helped get me through my mother's funeral. She is the friend I called one night from Texas from a bus station in the middle of a thunderstorm, in the middle of one of my fights with Tim. She is the friend who has always known when I was hurt or embarrassed or in trouble.

My friend is one those people who can say, "I love you," and it sounds so real and special. Not like the "Love ya" thing I tend to do with people I really do love, but I am just saying words.  Every single time that she has said, "Love you," it's been the real deal. It's saying not just that she loves me, but that she's really down for me. She is the friend that would, if I needed, come get me out of a bad situation. She is the friend who really, actually prays for me. And tells me about it.

This all seems so all about me, but I'm just trying to tell you about my friend.

When I was going through a really horrible time at work and I told her I just wanted to quit my job and run away to Budapest or somewhere, my friend priced tickets to Portland and was going to give me a weekend vacation for my birthday. I told her Budapest or nowhere. We ended up throwing a house party to end all house parties. She met a very Significan Other at that party and I know that she is leaving him pieces of her heart too.

My friend is leaving me with her smile, her laugh, her eyes that seemed to understand deep inside people. She is leaving beautiful memories. She is leaving me some of her strength and faith.

Maybe I am selfish for only thinking right now about how I won't be able to feel her or see her once she's gone. I won't be able to hear her voice. Why does all that mean so much to us? I'm just really trying to understand. I miss her so much already.