There are times when words can’t begin to describe the magnitude of one’s emotions, and this is a time when nothing I could possibly write could even begin to convey the depth of my grief over the news I’ve just received. My dearest friend has died. Her name was Nancy, and she was the kindest person I’ve ever known. We met online on a religious bulletin board approximately thirteen years ago. I was, as usual, arguing against Christian teachings, and she, a Catholic, wasn’t about to let me go unchallenged. She came after me verbal guns blazing, and if someone had told me then that we would go on to become the very best of friends, I would have thought that that was just about the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard.
Nancy lived in Florida and I in California, but we began e-mailing and then calling each other on the telephone and even managed to meet a couple of times and spend time together when she came to the Bay Area. We became very close emotionally. We could talk to each other about anything and everything going on in our lives, good or bad, joyful or painful, and that made our friendship grow even deeper and stronger. When my grandfather died, when my girlfriend broke off with me and I was almost suicidally depressed, when another girlfriend left and I was my senile grandmother’s sole, around-the clock caregiver, when my aunt Kathy died, when my grandmother died, when my girlfriend came back and then left again and I was alone, when my stepfather died, when I needed advice about my new job or anything at all or just someone to listen, Nancy was always there for me. She was there for me and got me through some of the most difficult times in my life. And she also shared in my best and brightest moments.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard Nancy’s husband Bill’s voicemail message this morning informing me that she had “passed on,” but it still shocked me to the core of my being, and my heart filled with indescribable grief. I want to call Bill and offer him words of consolation, but I’m waiting until I can compose myself enough not to break down on the phone with him. What can I say to him that can possibly have any point, any meaning, and do any good at a time like this? And how can I say it without either letting my grief overwhelm me or holding it so strongly in check that I sound cold and indifferent to his terrible loss?
I said I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s gone, because she suffered from more medical problems than any ten people should have to endure between them. And she had been hospitalized recently for pneumonia and blood clots in her lungs. But when we last spoke almost two weeks ago, she seemed to be recovering and was going to be sent to a rehabilitation center to regain her strength before she went back home. But what would she have gone home to? More hardship and suffering as her lupus worsened, her bones became more brittle from prednisone and forced inactivity, her eyes weakened to the point where she couldn’t read at all or watch any television, and she became unable to care for herself in any way without help?
She is surely better off now. So, why do I feel the way I do? Because I have lost my dearest friend. Because I feel a hole in my heart and in my life that can probably never be filled.
Farewell, Nancy, my dearest of friends. You were a special, wonderful lady. I loved you. I always will. You will never die in my heart.
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