Tuesday night my cousin and best friend, Shelly lost her battle with cancer.
She took her last breath while sleeping.
She'd slept most the the last two days before dying.
Shelly with her husband and her daughter, Stacy at Stacy's wedding a few years ago.
She played in the local summer orchestra.
We both played flute in high school but she took it back up in recent years.
This photo was from her high school reunion two years ago.
She was my best friend all my life. I loved her from the first time I was aware of her.
She being only eight months older than I.
We knew each other as babies and were always in each other's lives.
She knew all my secrets and I her's. No one else knows what we know about each other.
The last time I saw her was Sunday night, she was out of it but still talking a little.
She said she was hungry and the nurse asked her what she'd like to eat.
She said....confused as she was, "Well, we have never eaten here...could you tell me what you have?"
"We all like Thai food."
The nurse laughed and said there was no thai food.
Would chicken noodle soup do?
She agreed it would.
But when the soup came after one bite given to her by Tim...her husband,
she refused to eat any more saying that it must be saved for Nita.
She did not want to ruin it for she wanted Nita to have it.
I don't know that she knew I was sitting right there.
I told her I'd already eaten and that it was ok.
"No", she insisted, "save it for Nita". "You know she never has money."
True...lately....I never have money.
I never cried when I was around her this past year...or tried awfully hard not to.
I was just happy to still have her. So I didn't want to waste time while with her...crying.
But that made me cry...tears streamed down my face.
That as sick as she was...she was worried and thinking about me.
I did not know that would be the last time I would see her.
We thought the treatment they were doing would give her a little more time.
But she did not respond and she died on Tuesday night...while I was at work.
I never thought I'd be at work when she died.
I always thought I would be there but it happened suddenly.
I am grateful that I spent so much time with her this year.
I will always miss her...I will always have things I want to tell her...
The day she died...I'd had a strange feeling all day.
I'd woken thinking about how bad she had been Sunday night
and how she would not want to go on like she was.
Her great fear was that she would be out of her mind in the end.
And although she was still lucid...she was slipping, fast.
I was thinking how cruel life has been this past six months...starting with Newman dying and
it occurred to me that maybe Newman went because he needed to bet there
to meet Shelly.
I used to threaten to bring Newman to Shelly's house and just drop him off for the weekend.
This because she didn't like him very much and I wanted her to spend time with him
so she'd know how wonderful he was.
She was prejudice against him from the very start because he looked like
her ex sister in law who was a red head with blonde eyelashes.
And yes, he did look like her but I thought him so handsome.
I kept telling her that if she had him for a weekend she would not want to give him back.
She said if I brought him over, he'd get lost because she wouldn't go chasing after him when he got out the door.
Which he would have.
Once when she was here, he had slipped through her legs and out the gate.
She and I chased and chased him up and down and in and out the driveways and roads of my
neighborhood. Finally, a man driving a pickup stopped and helped us catch him.
That day she said...she would never have a dog like that! One that would run away and then
make you chase him and chase him.
The last time she was here...she sat on the steps of my back deck and Newman came
and put his head in her lap and gazed lovingly up at her.
She conceded that he was pretty sweet.
So all that day...the day she ended up dying in the night...I'd had this feeling that Newman
had died so that he'd be there for her...to take care of her. As only he could.
I believe in making the most of each Christmas, no matter how bad things might be in your life
because you never know what next Christmas might bring.
You might be missing loved ones and it will turn out that it was the last Christmas to have them.
So I always advise everyone to make the most of the one now...and not say
oh...I won't do a tree this year because my house is a mess or I'm not in the mood.
It might be the last Christmas you have with someone.
But this year...the Christmas lights around town that I usually find such joy in
seem dim and not so lovely.
They just look cheap and tacky.
All the stuff in the stores seems so trivial.
I think I may not take my own advise and just skip it this year.
2011 started out ok...Shelly was doing better and we had hope...but this past summer
everything changed and the rest of the year has been such a struggle.
I'll be very glad to see this year end.
I had hoped Shelly would make it through Christmas.
I think we all expected her to.
But she was so tired....she'd been fighting for so long.
She deserved a rest.
Oh...my dear sweetest friend....how I will miss you all the rest of my days.
And I know you miss me too...you told me you would miss me just as much as I miss you.
No one ever loved someone more than I loved you.