Sometimes, Saturday and Sunday are the hardest mornings of the week. These are the mornings we power phoned, after she moved to Texas in 2008.
Not many weekend mornings go by without me getting a little emotional because two years and three months later, I still want to pick up the phone and call Mel. I wind up reflecting, remembering, reliving the woman and my time with her.
It was more than just drugs that weakened her body to the point of, at 46, having a massive spinal cord infarction AKA a stroke in her spinal cord.
Mel had three children with her husband and after they divorced, she had a fourth with someone else. Of her first three kids, her youngest had major health issues. It started when she was 6 or 7. She would get severely sick, winding up with pneumonia. They spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital. Tests were done for Leukemia, AIDS, and I don’t know how many others and always, no idea what the illness was that was causing Necrotizing Granuloma in her lungs. The CDC and NIH took samples and ran tests, it didn’t show anything micro or micra. In the lab, no one could solve wtf was wrong. It was noted that winters in Washington were not good for her daughter.
The illness was treated with chemo drugs, though she did not have cancer. Mel’s bank accounts, savings accounts and credit cards all went to the medical bills of her daughter, which reached astronomical proportions. I watched my friend go from comfortable and able to financially care for all her children with or without child support or emotional support from her former spouse, to having nothing. Her land where she was going to build was gone, her rentals were gone, her job was gone, and she had very little support.
It was the health of her daughter in the winters here, that took them away from me to Texas. I thought I would die. For almost 25 years, I had never been more than a 30 minute drive from her. I’d never been unable to contact her by phone whenever I wanted except for the two summers I was in Alaska.
A good thing did happen in Texas. Her daughter stopped getting “winter sick” (my term). Her lungs stopped dying and as she grew older, the percentage of damage area lessened. Of course, all the drugs she was on for an unknown illness, created other issues. Arthritis, IBS, and Crohns are things she lives with. At the time of her death, three of her children were with her in Texas and one was here with her ex husband.
Mel had health issues of her own. She had become diabetic with her pregnancies. I am unclear if the condition persisted afterwards. I thought not, but I found the kit and lancet pack in her bathroom after the stroke. I don’t know if she was currently diabetic or not and she wasn’t taking anything for it if she were, because. TEXAS. There was no health exchange in Texas because. OBAMA. Her daughter, was covered still through Washington, as well as the courts stepping in and forcing her ex to take some responsibility and keep his daughter insured no matter what.
Because of the health of her daughter, the amount of time spent in hospitals, at doctors, having surgeries, Mel couldn’t hold down a job. It isn’t that she didn’t try, she did. She decided to go back to school.
Right before her death, she was taking calculus. Everything hinged on passing calculus. If she failed, she would lose her funding and she would no longer be able to put so much time into her daughter’s care. She was burning herself out, was down to under 90 lbs. She was living on caffeine, cigarettes, and pills. She had suffered migraines since I had met her. It didn’t strike me as odd that she was taking stuff for a migraine. I never made the pill connection. I worried about her daughter being addicted because the names of pills they had her on. I “badgered” Mel about her daughters opioid intake.
So all this dribble came from thinking of her this morning and remembering the morning she told me she passed calculus. I was SO proud of her and I told her so. I know many people who have had to change the course of their education because. CALCULUS. I remember saying, “I am SO PROUD of you!” I remember the silence and then hearing her soft crying and heavy sigh followed by, “Thank you **sniffles** I needed to hear that.”
Her continued education was so important to her and she was the type of person who gave it her all, putting herself lowest on the pole of who needed her help. The pay off was supposed to be getting herself back to being financially independent. She had taken someone’s business from struggling, to a million dollar company. She would do it for herself this time.
I know her well enough to know how hard she was pushing herself. I know she thought tomorrow. Tomorrow I will deal with myself.
Only her tomorrows stopped Christmas eve 2014 when the stroke began. I realize in hindsight that part of the oddness in that last call, with her language, words, thoughts was the beginning of the stroke. I wish I had known. I wish I would have called 911 from my state because I suspected something, but I didn’t.
I really miss her.
I did it.
All mine. The responsibilities and the freedoms. I’m having the boys over for Christmas. It is so weird knowing that I say the boys, knowing you know I mean two of your boys. I’ll never forget TXR, even though he will me. I know he will remember his siblings.
Christmas is coming, like it or not. I’d rather not sink. I’d like to believe you’d rather I not sink. All of the pain and sadness will never go away, but I am willing to lean into my new reality and forge the next phase.
There is no Mr. Y and I am so very OK with that. I had to know and now… I do. I wish him well, resent his actions and love him anyway. From afar, like I am supposed to. He was the best and the worst and so was I.
Mom is coming over later. I’m going to make her dinner. I miss you and love you.
I’ve not been writing, not really reading others, working as usual, actually missing less time now that things have “settled down” and I’m back on a schedule, have no bugs, and no common cold, nor pneumonia.
So how am I doing, nine months after my friend had herself a merry little Strokemas? (Jesus, did I just type that and sing it in my head while doing so? I did.)
I am pretty crippled.
The last nine months have been the hardest nine months of my life. I feel abandoned by practically everyone. I can’t interact with people I have been really close to, without feeling abandoned by them. Isn’t THAT fucked up?
My friends, the people that love me, want to be able to say the magic words. I want someone to say the magic words. I want to know what the fucking magic words are!
The sad truth of the matter is that there is no magic anything anyone can say. I know this. They know this. And yet I am just terrified of losing other people. With some, I can feel the awkwardness of not knowing what to say to me, or how to deal with how I am so different. Yes, I am VERY different.
Melissa, was not my first best friend. I was 24 the first time I met her, She was 18. We became best friends when she married. I bar-tended her reception. We both got pregnant that year. I was 28 when I had my daughter. She was barely 22 when she had her son 6 weeks later. From the last trimester on, we were inseparable. Like I said though, she wasn’t my first BFF ever, but she was my soul mate and the loss of her, has really fucked me up.
I remember sitting by her bed, and realizing what was going on (the bigger picture) as I spent more time with her. I knew I was going to lose her. The bullet had already left the gun. It was then I realized that she was my soul mate. I’ll always remember the look on her face when I just started thinking my thoughts out loud to her. “You know what?” Her eyes got so big. I knew she was asking me “What?” so I continued. ” I’ve always hated the word soul mate. Women use it in a serial manner with men. The word has been cheapened. Serial soul mates. I just realized that all this time, my soul mate has been right here with me.” Her brow furrowed. She closed her eyes and a tear fell out of her left eye, rolling down her cheek towards her ear. I wiped it, told her I loved her…the 11 days melt together. The traumas become fuzzier, but I get flashes of the weirdest things, that just drag me away with them. There remain things, I can not say. Not on the internet, and not with most people. But these things need out. They are eating me up. I can’t keep them and they won’t let go, so I am in desperate need of some help.
I know what I WANT to do, but it is not conventional, nor would my insurance cover, nor sanction it. It is not something I want to do on my own. I would need a guide to get me through what comes up and out.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. It doesn’t get better. It gets amplified. Sure I feel less RAW, but there is a hole, and there is nothing that fills it.
I can’t hear this and not think of her. I change the lyric appropriately. She was and is my hero, regardless of her faults and flaws. I loved her like no other. She wasn’t ordinary though, not to me.
I started writing, because I kept having a thought over and over and I really just wanted to type it out, so I’ll leave you with what I was craving to say:
I lost my best friend and cried for the rest of my life.
I never thought I would live to see certain things.
I never thought I would live to see a black president. We both saw that.
I never thought I would see marijuana legal. We both lived to see it legal in MY state, it has yet to go nationwide, but we saw the start, together.
I never thought I would live to see the day when gay and lesbian couples could marry. I lived to see it. You did not. And you didn’t live to see us finish the fight for transgender folks. You knew that for me, the fight wouldn’t be over with just partial equality, right? I have a partner in that fight. You know her, in fact you molded her and her sense of fairness is a direct reflection of you. How I love you both.
I miss you, but I am starting to smile and laugh more and more my love. I DID talk to you this morning about something. I said it out loud out on the porch, because I can’t say it here. I hope you heard me, in the vast state of everything you are now. I think of how, if your energy returned to our source, that now instead of being petite and tiny, you are huge and massive now. You’re part of everything, from the tiniest particle to the largest part of Universe. So I assume you heard me in one way or another, and you will do what you can.
Mr. Yummy came home last night and he’s gone again today. He literally came home in time to go to bed, but somehow, we managed to have fun regardless. He’s gone back to The Island today to continue working on the food truck he went to Texas to get right after you died, for his daughters business. She gave a guy 30 grand to do the electrical. Guess who is out fixing his work now?
I’m getting used to the fact that he’s gone a lot in the summer and I’ll get most of my best snuggles come the fall and winter. I also am feeling more comfortable with the whole touching thing again. It was the night before he took off to start work on the daughter’s truck, only I didn’t know he was leaving the next day. I was laying there having anxiety wanting to reach out and just hold his hand as I fell asleep and having total anxiety over it, so I told him as much. He sighed and told me I worry too much. Then he reached out and grabbed my hand. I would have been happy just holding hands, but when his hands wandered, all bets were off. We are so good there. Always have been. I just hope we catch up to being as good in other areas. Surprisingly, I’m doing well with my own insecurities and facing them down.
Still I miss you. Friday after the SCOTUS handed down their decision I was at work thinking, “I can’t believe you didn’t live to see this…or menopause, but mainly THIS. I started to get weepy. Carrie, the production manager came in and said the company wants to take a #LoveWins photo for instagram. It made me cry when she told me just because of the timing of wishing I could share the Historical moment with you. I explained, she gave me a hug and if you look close in the picture, you can see the tissue still in my hand. I am SO proud to work for the company I work for. I give you…my work tribe.
This is one of those days where I have so much to tell you.
My three times step brother was just here. He came up from LA and is looking for property here. I wasn’t going to ask if he could stay here, but then when he sat at the table looking for hotels, I grew a pair and asked if he can stay. He of course, said yes.
He stayed Wednesday through this morning, Saturday. I took Friday off, took him to meet my little sister, since last he saw her, she was in diapers. He gave me a good self check Friday night, and I was stunned when I left him here and went to the store for 15 minutes, he got Mr. Yummy to say that he knows I love him. He also learned the things I know, He’s into a simple life, living to be happy, no drama, and he has people (family) he loves and are important (his riding buddies) to him.
I wasn’t surprised he found out that stuff, but I about fell over when he said, “He knows you love him.” I asked, “How do you know?” he replied that Mr. Yummy told him. I just sat there thinking, “I was only gone fifteen freaking minutes!” I didn’t ask what else was said. I didn’t dig, or push.
I slept in his bed Wednesday night. I stayed far on my side to the edge. I awoke mid way through the night and he was really close to me and we were holding hands. It scared me so I pulled away and said I was sorry as I rolled over. Thursday I went to bed first and slept all night, I felt him almost spoon me once.
Here it is two days later. I had to stop writing, because I felt overwhelmed.
Lots has changed inside of me, though looking at my actual life, not much really has changed. It’s just me that is changing.
Not too long ago I expressed what it would be like to want to call you because I had happy news, and not just sad fucking bull-shit. Today, Monday the 8th of June (See that irony? The 8th. That means you died 6 months ago today) is the first day I wanted to call you with GOOD news. I got my review today, and got a small raise. Not a big one, but we are a small company so I am OK with small ($1.00 an hour).
I couldn’t call you, so I called Mini Me.
Gawd, I want her home.
My brother being here, seemed to break the ice at home. Maybe it did nothing. Maybe it just helped push a change in me. Whatever the reason, I am grateful. I desperately need to take my life, and control of it, back from the land your death took it too. I’m not really feeling too guilty about this, because I know, my dearest friend…that my living, must go on. Otherwise? What’s the fucking purpose? I truly believe that I am a spiritual being, having a human experience. You taught me, the ultimate, in human loss of someone unconditionally loved, on both sides. I wish to fucking God that ANYONE but you (how’s that for throwing other friends under the bus?) had taught me that. I do realize though, that only YOU could teach me this, because of who you are/were/have been/always will be to me. Still, I hate it and look forward to the day my energy comes to you, because it will.
So I got my snuggle on Friday night. It was nice. And frightening. Though nice. I got my review today and a raise. That was nice. Realizing today is 6 months was still a breath-catcher. I’m never going to be the same, but I will adjust to this new normal in my life. I have to.
I will always be there for the kids. Even if I can’t financially care for them like I wish I could. I will always have room and time for them and I will love them like they are my kids, because they have always been kinda my kids, because of you.
I miss you MORE, not less as time goes by, but I’m coping and I am learning once again, how fucking strong I am.
I love you always.
Sick n Sin,