"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"
Sunday, August 7, 2011
This Ain't Goodbye
Okay. I'm not even sure where to begin, to be honest.
I lost a really great friend this past weekend. Saturday morning.
I think I'm still in the Denial stage of grief. Its just so hard to......grasp. To really say to yourself, She is gone. I'm not going to see her anymore on random at work. I won't see her smiling face anymore, hear her laugh. I'm not in denial that she passed away. I get that. I understand that. I'm in denial I won't see her anymore, I guess. Its just so hard to believe.
It happened fast. She became very sick very quickly and after all, we all knew death was imminent, as much as we all hoped she would pull through on the last minute and be fine. She was diagnosed with Cancer in June and we all imagined her pulling through the chemotherapy rounds and then eventually returning back to work one day. None of us knew, ever even thought, that it would end like it did. Maybe thats why its still so hard to believe. She was supposed to make it.
She was hired where I work (at the hospital), on my floor, the same job as me, exactly a month after I. I met her when I was 18, five years ago. At the time I was only working alternating weekends, so I could toggle my other job and school as well. Therefore, she was my "weekend buddy", the only employee I really got to know at first. We were both still so new and we learned the ropes together, we had a lot of laughs and a lot of learning. Eventually I quit my other job and picked up a lot more shifts at the hospital and eventually met a lot more people and became very good friends with a lot more of my coworkers. But Ann was the first.
She was way too young to die. Just over middle age, she was just starting to prepare for retirement and the major second half of her life. She was just recently dieting to be healthier...for some reason I can't get that out of my mind. Just a week or so before she was diagnosed I remember her asking for some time off to get some health check-ups done. She was fine, then. Or so we thought.
Life is always full of "I should haves". If I had known that her being diagnosed with cancer and admitted to our hospital would end in her passing, I would have gone to visit more. I would have given her more hugs. I went to visit on occasion because I knew there would be more times to visit, a lifetimes worth. I was wrong.
The earth shattering thought of it all comes down to this....she was "fine", and then two months later, she is not with us anymore. She was dieting, she was planning for the future, she was taking care of her daughter and mother, she was living her life, she was working full time, she was fine.
It could happen to any of us. It could happen to any of us that we become sick, or any of us could die at any passing moment, and then what? Just like that? It's just hard to wrap your mind around. I think everyone naturally plans on and counts on the fact that they will live til their elder years and then its okay to pass away. I certainly do. I can't imagine myself not making it to the elder years, but then again, who actually plans on not doing so? Life just catches us so off guard its unbelievable.
Upon her recent passing, all of us at work have been sharing our favorite memories of her. Memories she never would have imagined would be her last in our minds.
Some of my favorite include this one time when staffing was an absolute mess one day at work and everyone was pulled to all different floors. I got pulled first to our psychiatric unit for a 1:1. Me and Ann were supposed to split the 8 hours and switch at 7pm. Well, 7 pm came and sure enough, she came down, but not to relieve me. She sat down right across from me, and told me she had been called down herself to watch another patient next door. So we spent the next four hours, right next to eachother (that never happens on 1:1's, ever), just talking, catching up and getting to know more about one another.
Which got me thinking, if you or I died right now, what would peoples last memories be with you? Do you approve of those memories? What would you change?
What would you wish you could have done before you died?
For some reason, every time I come close to death myself (I make it sound like this happens a lot but its actually usually made up in my mind *hypochondriac*) I find myself thinking, "I can't die yet. I haven't written a book yet." A written book is the one thing I want this world to remember me by. So why aren't I writing it? I am fine, I am healthy, I am not dying anytime soon. I have all the time in the foreseeable, fortunate lucky world. So if it means that much to me to do before I die, why aren't I writing it? Why wait until its too late?
I guess we always just leave those things to another day because "life" gets in the way. Our kids, our jobs, our responsibilities, our groceries, our errands. Our bucket lists can wait on another day, another time to start that, because today you have to run errands.
Being in the healthcare field, I know how much she was suffering. She is no longer in pain now and had a very painful and traumatizing last month of her life, which no one should ever haver to go through. Being on the patient and nurse in my life so far, I know the dynamics and suffering of what she went through and I don't even know if I would be strong enough to do it myself. She was one of the strongest people I knew.
So, knowing that, my only prayer is that Ann got to do what meant the most to her in life. Got to spend life with people she loved most and loved her most. I guess thats all anyone can ask for, when it comes down to the bare necessities, right?
Well, one day we will meet again. I know she will be waiting for us with her classic smile, and Styrofoam cup of water with "Ann" written on the side. Until then.....
"But this ain't goodbye
This is just the way love goes
When words aren't warm enough to keep away the cold.
This ain't goodbye
It's not where our story ends"
Love you always, remember you forever. Rest in Peace, Ann. < 3
. song lyrics by Train, "This Ain't Goodbye"