I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my family, my husbands family, classmates, community members…but the loss of my dear friend Laura was the roughest on me (sorry mom). When you choose to bring a person into your circle, into your life, it’s got a different significance than who you happen to have in your life already.
Laura was kind, thoughtful, but also down to earth and flawed. She held her flaws close, but shared them with me from the beginning…we had a comfort with each other almost right away that was easy. I’ll never forget the evening she told me about the lump in her neck…
We were having dinner together on an early November evening. She had the roasted garlic potato soup and I had the pumpkin ravioli. We chatted quite a while and when I noticed the lump on her neck, she said she’d have it checked as soon as her insurance kicked in in January. While I completely understood waiting for financial reasons, I told her not to let it go longer than that. But that evening, I had the thought: it’s cancer and she’s going to die. I can’t explain it, to have not just a feeling, but the sure and certain knowledge of what was to come was overwhelming. Sure enough, the doctor saw her on a Wednesday in January and took it out two days later on his lunch break, telling her he was 99% sure it was cancer. From there, scans and tests and chemo…and by July she was cancer free. But she struggled to shake a cough, taking steroids to reduce inflammation changed her appearance and did little to help..In October, they did a biopsy of her lungs, and she was hospitalized for good after that. Early November brought news that she wasn’t conscious, relied on a ventilator, and had an uphill battle. I knew she would not come back to us, I knew that life had been too hard for her, that she didn’t want to fight anymore, and that she knew letting go was the kindest thing her family could do for her. Her paperwork was quite clear: after two weeks on a ventilator, with no signs of improvement, she was to be taken off life support. She only lasted a week on the machines, her body just couldn’t keep going.
Laura was one of the most perfect imperfect people I’ve ever met. She was nurturing and gentle, and a dear friend. I’ve been finally allowing people into my heart again, and though I’ve been hurt, I’ve also been healed. I’m not much for heaven and all that, but I believe she is with me, and that she sent me a couple of wonderful people to help fill the Laura-shaped hole in my heart.