Friday, 7 November 2008
Conversations Among The Dying
The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is not true. My good friend Darlene died one year ago today. You never forget and you never completely heal. Time heals nothing. Time passes and that is it.
With the anniversary of Darlene’s death come the memories of my other dear friends who died: Jill, Helen, and Angie. It isn’t easy to lose people that you grow to love, just as it isn’t easy to know that they died of what you will die of and that in the end it comes very quickly and sometimes without having the loving relationships you would like because egos (either yours or theirs) get in the way.
Darlene’s best friend Sally and I were discussing Darlene and how much we miss her and how much we love Marcie and Travis and how we can’t even describe how sad we are for them. Sally said about cancer and Darlene dying that ‘It is all torture, just different forms of it.’
Today, one year later, I remember opening my Facebook and reading the only message Darlene had ever sent me on Facebook and it was posted on November 2, 2007:
*Hi Renee. I love you and think of you all the time. I’m starting chemo on Monday, Docitaxel and Gymsidabean? They’re giving me Kytril so I guess I’ll be sick, not looking forward to that. Got a PICC line today and they drained my stomach and got 6.6 liters off my stomach. They put a steroid after the drain hoping that will keep it down longer than two days. Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you earlier. Don’t know if I’ll see you Tuesday, hope so. Lots of luv Dar XO
I replied with the following:
*6.6 liters are you kidding me. Oh my God.
*Can I come and see you, just let me know. I can come and spend some of the day. I love you. I just reminded Marcie about our lunch next week. You might be having chemo then though. Darlene, Taxotere really did wonders for me. I want the same for you. Hurry and let this be a terrible memory.
*Sally told me yesterday in group that you fell and are black and blue. Darlene, what next?
The phone rings, it is Irene and she proceeds to tell me that she has bad news ‘Darlene just died.’ I said ‘Darlene who?’ She says ‘well Darlene.’ I say ‘My Darlene?’ She says ‘yes.’
I can’t believe it; I just talked to her yesterday. I believe it, and at the same time, I don’t. I feel like somebody just ripped my heart out of my forehead.
Marcie calls me and tells me her Mom is dead and could I come over. There are no words to say to a daughter who just lost the most important person in her life. I go over and see Marcie and Travis and I have no words.
Today, I think of all the things that Darlene, Jill, Helen, and Angie have done to stay alive so that they could spend more time with their children. I think of all the things that I do and Sally, Donna, Carol, Bernice, etc. do to get another day. And with all of the things that we do and go through there is still no reassurance that we can keep the devil at bay.
It is inevitable for us, for all of us really, that no matter how we plan, dose, medicate, radiate, recuperate, and then get more chemo that we can keep death at bay and our bodies bouncing back.
We have been marked and so sometimes all we can take from a day is the support and love that we give to each other. We of the mark, we who will miss out on our children’s lives before we should have too, we who understand the same language, we who miss the ones who have gone before.
I am going to give you a peek at some of Darlene’s emails to me, just so that you can get an essence of what a wonderful, caring, selfless person she was.
These emails are from February/06 to October/07.
*Just wanted to see how you’re doing and to let you know that I’m thinking about you lots (this was repeated on every email, I am not going to repeat it here). Did you go for the bone scan today, if so hope that all went well.
*I’ve got 4 more days of work practicum and than that’s it, I’m officially done school. I applied for a Clerk Typist II at CancerCare, it is a permanent part time position (she did get the job but was unable to take it as her cancer came back).
*Well time for bed. Renee please know that if there is something I can do or you want to get out for coffee just give me a ring. Write when you feel up to it okay. Take care; you’re always on my mind and in my prayers. Lots of luv Dar.
*I know you’re probably already gone for your treatments but I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be thinking of you my dear friend. Hope that all goes well for you and that you’re not sick after the treatment.
*I wish there was something that I could do for you. I remember I cried in the shower every night when I was first diagnosed. And I think I’m always thinking of the time that will be lost. It’s very hard times that we’re going through.
*Do you think that you’d feel like going out for breakfast sometime on the weekend? If you do I could be ready in an hours’ notice. Call if you feel up to it. Take care Renee and I’ll be thinking of you on Friday as I always do. If you ever need me to take you on a Friday please just call. I’ve got my parking pass so it won’t cost us a dime heehee. Thinking of you always my dear friend.
*I hope that you all had a nice Christmas, you’ve been on my mind lots. Renee, you are not going to believe this, my sweet children bought me a laptop computer for Christmas. I cried and cried. Dave has set it up for me and I love it so now when I’m too sore to sit at the desk I can have it on my lap. I’m going to call you today but if you don’t feel up to talking I totally understand.
*I saw Dr. Daenick yesterday and he is recommending surgery to take out the rib and nerves if they are damaged. He is referring me to Dr. Tan, I am so happy about this even though it means surgery.
*Everyone is excited for you GRANDMA!! Phone if you feel up to it, I’ll be home all day doing laundry.
*Hope that you are doing okay and are keeping warm; it is unreal out there isn’t it.
*I went to the surgeon last week and he told me that they could do the surgery but they couldn’t promise that would end the problem and that I could end up in more pain (it did help, but the pain was still incredible). I was upset with that and felt like I was back at the beginning. They suggest that I get a nerve block first (she did and it didn’t really help). What have you been up to, keeping warm I hope. How is Angelique feeling? Are you going to group on Tuesday, do you want to go with me? Talk soon, always thinking of you Renee.
*I have been thinking of you all week, how did the wedding go? Fantastic I hope. I know Nadalene would have looked beautiful. Can you please send some pictures when you can? I’m so sorry that I didn’t make it but I’m still not getting around too easily. I thought I’d be having cabin fever by now but I don’t really have any desire to go out at all.
*I hope that you had a nice Thanksgiving and are feeling okay. We had our dinner yesterday at Karen’s but my stomach is so big I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to. Just wanted to let you know that I won’t be going to group tomorrow and Sally isn’t sure if she’s going or not. I went to emergency on Saturday I couldn’t take it anymore. They are supposed to drain my stomach tomorrow if the liver is okay. One of the counts was out on Saturday so they gave me some vitamin K and have stopped my needles to help so I sure hope it does. I think I’ll lose it if they can’t do it. I’ll miss you all tomorrow but I’ll be thinking of you all.
The following last email is from me to Darlene’s message above:
*Poor poor you. And I am complaining. I’m so sorry Darlene. I know my stomach hurts and is uncomfortable, but I know it isn’t like yours. I love you and am so sorry that you are going through this.
Who Darlene cared about more than anyone in this world were Marcie and Travis. All she wanted was for them to have people to support them and love them just as if she was here to do it herself. Unfortunately no one can love our children like their mothers do. We can all try but it isn’t good enough. Darlene had a quiet manner and was one of the bravest and selfless people I know. This quote describes Darlene to me at so many levels.
~~ The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next. Mignon McLaughlin ~~
When I get discouraged I go on mostly for my children, but sometimes because of friends like Darlene, Jill, Helen, and Angie. I go on because they would have given anything to be able to do so and that choice was taken from them. I choose to go on and honour them by living and loving, and at my best times being joyful and appreciating every single second that I have on this planet, because Darlene, Jill, Helen and Angie no longer can.
I am one of the marked, the unlucky, the one who has lost a very dear friend. And even that wouldn’t be so bad if Marcie and Travis did not have to lose a very dear mother. Darlene not being here is a big deal and it should be a big deal. Love and cherish the people in your life today because they may not be here tomorrow.