Friday, July 25, 2008

There's a Tear in My Beer

Except that I don't drink beer so I'm drinking Dr. Pepper (the hard diet here) and drowning my sorrows. And eating my sorrows. Ice cream is next.

Today was rough. I decided, even though I really did NOT want to, that I needed to go visit my friend Ethel. I had heard that it was a miracle she survived the night and that she could go at any moment. The tumors in her brain were massive and one was bleeding (hemorrhaging). She is unable to talk and hasn't eaten in 15 days. The only liquids she's had in the last 5-7 days comes from water with her pain meds mixed in. She apparently said NO tubes and no IVs.

My coworkers had asked people on Monday to create scrapbook pages for people to sign and then give to her and her family. Since we had no idea how long she would last we managed to get them all together (well, most of them) in a book, signed and all, in less than a week. People from our Chicago and New York offices even overnighted comments written so we could add them to the pages. I'm sure Ethel had no idea how much she affected so many different people.

One of the reasons I decided to go is something one of my other coworkers had said. She is one of the ones delivering meals and was there on Wednesday. Apparently Ethel's husband had asked about me and thought I was planning to visit.

*insert shocked look here*

I've met him a few times - they had come to several of my jewelry shows - and waved when he would pick her up from work. Ethel was SO supportive of me. As he said today, she was my best customer. :) She was my favorite customer. She encouraged me and got so excited to see my new work. Apparently she talked to her hubby about me, my jewelry, and even more importantly my dogs.

Ethel and I spent large amounts of time talking about our animals. She has 2 dogs and 2 cats and we loved talking about our fur babies. Her desk was on the way to the ladies rest room so we chatted several times a day. I wish I'd spent even more time talking with her - who knows when our time is up?

So when I heard that he was expecting me to visit I felt like I couldn't just avoid my own pain by not going. I got together with a couple other ladies and we got some of the meals together to take over.

The first thing I noticed was the Oxygen warning sign. We loaded up the fridge with rice, salad, chicken with sauce, lasagne, and strawberries for the strawberry shortcake. We chatted with her hubby a little bit and then I asked if I could say hi.

Her face is unrecognizable. I would never recognize her - it's like her face melted. It's twisted and elongated. She can't keep her head straightened due to a tumor on her neck so it's at an angle. She can't move her entire left arm because of all the tumors.

Her eyes have turned blue. They used to be hazel. I've never heard of that happening.

She can't talk. She can't move. She can't eat. She opened her eyes and made eye contact - several times she would seem to fall asleep but then she'd open them again. I held up the scrapbook and told her how everyone had signed it and how much we loved and missed her. And the whole time I was sobbing. It sucks to sob in front of your coworkers...but they were all sobbing too.

I told her about Trooper and how she was going to think I'm crazy but that we have a foster dog. I am sure that she can hear even though she can't respond. I held her hand...I'm sure she knew how hard that was for me because she knows my aversion to touching people. lol I hope she knows how much I will miss her.

Cancer is evil. Life is not fair. This was a vibrant woman who loved life. She adored scrapbooking and was very good at it. She loved her animals. And her husband. They were best friends. She is his angel, his princess. I started sobbing again when he sat next to her and held her hand. Saying that it breaks my heart is an understatement.

My glasses are all spotted and speckled from crying. If you wear glasses I'm sure you know what I mean. I don't understand. It's not fair. I'm mad. I'm exhausted. NOT skip your female exams. Ethel hadn't had one for 30 years. If she'd had a regular appointment the doctors may have caught this in time. I scheduled mine after she was first diagnosed. She is the only reason. I'd been skipping mine for several years...I think it had been around 5!

I HATE THIS!!! It's too painful. It's probably good that I don't have a ton of good friends because things like this break me down. Is that selfish? Or self preservation? There's so much more we could have shared.

Now I'm's been a very long, stressful, and emotional day. But I know that if I hadn't gone and she had passed over the weekend I couldn't have forgiven myself.

1 comment:

Angelika said...


She knew you were there and she appreciated it! Trust in that, dear.