I am not sure I have ever been through such an emotional time as I have been for the past few weeks. I can write this now, and let it out, because permanent change has come into my life, and the lives of many, and there is nothing left to shelter from the truth.
As you may know I had a tough time after my second reconstruction surgery on September 15. I went into the surgery exhausted from working lots of hours on our fundraiser and then we wrapped that up Saturday September 13. We ran errands all day Sunday getting ready for me to be out of commission for a week or two, and Monday morning we were at the hospital by 5 am. The surgery was longer than expected and I was very very sick for days after because I think I had a reaction to the anesthesia. After a few days of being out of it I checked my text messages and there were many on there from my close friend Michelle. I assumed someone was updating everyone so I took another oxy, rolled over and went back to sleep. I was pretty out of it but finally Michelle and I were able to talk on Sunday. I was excited to talk to her, after all, I hadn’t seen her since the art show the week before. She was anxious about an appointment she had the next day with a neuro doctor to find out what was going on with her brain mets. After not hearing anything from her Monday late afternoon I called her cell and her brother answered. Michelle had been admitted to the hospital for all kinds of tests and the whirlwind began. I wasn’t allowed into the hospital because I had those stupid drains, which were open wounds, and I couldn’t risk getting an infection. NO HOSPITALS my doctors said. No way. So another week or two went by and I finally got to see Michelle at her house. There was a dramatic decline in her health since I last saw her – but she was as cute as always, but fuzzy thinking and sort of dozy. I saw her again, maybe twice after that, but I was really feeling the loss of not being able to text her, call her, speak to her, and joke with her on a daily basis like before. It had been before my surgery since we did that and I was beginning to feel, and process, the beginning of my loss of Michelle. I texted her often and her girls, or her friend Kristie, read her my texts. It just wasn’t the same but I went on hoping and praying for a miracle for Michelle, all the while, preparing for my first grand baby to be born. Morgan was getting more uncomfortable by the day and my schedule was extremely hectic getting ready for our Primax Pink Warriors and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. To say I was being pulled in a thousand different directions is an understatement. I was trying to emotionally balance Michelle sliding away from me and watching her health decline, and staying happy and positive – hoping and praying for a safe delivery for Morgan and a healthy baby. A brand new life and losing a close friend ….a very hard thing to balance day-to-day. Each day my mind would look at both situations and ask myself if today was “the day”…each night I went to bed happy for the new life coming and very sad for my friend leaving; a constant teeter-todder of emotions. Then came the text I was waiting for – Morgan was in labor. It was last Saturday morning early. I showered and hopped in the car – ready to go and meet my granddaughter. I texted Michelle’s daughter on the way and I got back a very happy text from her. Michelle had been wide-eyed, awake, alert, and coherent all morning. I asked if I could talk to her and my phone rang. My eyes filled with tears as Michelle and I had a very clear, great conversation about everything. My old Michelle was back! I was hoping this was the miracle I had been praying for. It happens you know. But, I also knew in the back of my mind that some people rally often before their bodies give out and they fade away. This is something I also feared. I was flying down the highway – talking to Michelle – crying – thinking I knew where I was going – and I missed my exit. But I didn’t know it yet. The road that I was used to ending where I thought it ended, had been extended. Michelle and I continued talking and I was describing the beautiful rainbow I saw in front of my car. I think we both knew this was the last time we would speak because we both cried on and off – cried for the happiness of a new baby, cried for the loss her children would be facing, cried for the change our friendship would soon take, and cried because stupid cancer was taking her life away from her and taking her away from me and everyone else. I was on my way to experience one of the greatest things a Mom can experience, the birth of a grand baby, and we both were well aware that she might not ever experience that with her girls. What a thief cancer is. What a rotten horrible thief. We ended our conversation with “I love you” as we always do and we hung up. I began sobbing and a few minutes later I realized I had missed my turn and ended up going 35 minutes out of my way. One way. Then I really began to cry…..life and death….I was so afraid I was going to miss the birth of my grand baby. I got myself back on the right road and began to really fear that being late was going to make me miss a monumental event in our lives.
I wasn’t late to the birth of the baby – thank God….and Michelle was able to see text pictures of the baby for the first few days Haley was with us. I am so honored that she could share in this happiness – even from a distance.
So, we had our walk Saturday October 18 and dedicated it to Michelle – that is a whole different blog post coming, and Sunday I went to say my final goodbyes to Michelle. When we pulled into the driveway (I didn’t tell them I was coming because they said I didn’t need to), Chloe said she was glad I was there and that her Mom needed to see me. I went inside and got to spend some one on one time with Michelle. These are precious moments that I will treasure until I see her again. I just love this girl so much. She has always been the hardest fighting cancer kicking woman I know. Test result after test result – her attitude remained clear and focused, she was going to see Chloe and Cami graduate from high school. (Chloe is 14 and Cami is 16 – and cute as buttons). Michelle fought her entire breast cancer battle with her eyes focused on God and His promises. She wouldn’t allow us to wallow in fear or sadness when her tests came back scary or negative. She wouldn’t allow us to feel bad for her and there were many times she accepted help – but she didn’t accept help easily. She is truly the strongest woman I know. I got to hug on her girls Sunday and I have told them over the last week or so how much their Mom loves them. She loves them with every single part of her being. And I know that the thought of leaving them is what kept her fight going. She wanted to see grandbabies, high school graduations, college graduations, more proms, weddings, engagements, and memories. She just wanted more time with her girls….that is all she ever wanted.
Michelle passed away this morning, quietly, surrounded by her family.
I am back to the balancing act of life and heaven….survivor guilt and memories….missing a friend so much that my heart actually hurts. I am not going to say that Michelle earned her pink angel wings or those corny things like that. Losing your life to breast cancer is not a pink and fuzzy wing winning option. It is a brutal fight with devastating results. But, I know in my heart that Michelle’s faith in God has carried her right up to Heaven to be where she belongs and I also know we will see her again someday. I love and miss you already Michelle….the world was a better place with you in it and my heart is breaking from the loss of your friendship and your smile – and the heartache I have for your girls takes my breath away. I will continue to pray for your Mom and Dad, your brother and his family, and your girls….every single day. Thank you dear friend for all you have brought into our lives – things will never be the same without you.