My friend Cindi, who I became acquainted with when I worked at American Eagle, is passing away.
For the last 3+ years, it has been health issue after health issue. Not sure I can remember what order they came in (What sort of friend cannot remember such significant details?): But; brain tumors, perforated ulcer, lung cancer, heart valve bypass, return of brain tumors, return of lung cancer, spinal cancer... and she awaits the last journey in a hospice.
I have been to see her several times in hospice. Probably more times in the last six weeks than I have visited her in the last couple of years. I fully intended to go last week. But, stuff happens. I got some sort of intestinal bug and didn't feel like walking as far as the mailbox, much less driving 25 miles to see anyone. And didn't figure she needed a flu bug on top of everything else.
During this last couple of weeks, I have questioned myself hard. Am I going to see her for HER, or am I going to see her for ME?
I had an appointment in that area today, so I decided to stop by. Had I not gone today, I was going to go tomorrow. I was halted at the nursing station. Who was I there to see? And my name?
"You aren't on the list. I'm sorry. She isn't receiving visitors. Maybe you can get an update from her daughter."
I didn't make the short list- friends and family welcome at the end.
Cindi may not have had any part in the making of the list. I had just hoped to sit and hold her hand for a little while. Give her some sips of water.
Even if Cindi had excluded me from that list herself, I understand.
Here at the end, when your hair is standing on end, your body is a solid bruise, and your 5'9" frame carries a whopping 70 lbs, soaking wet with rocks in your pockets... if you had any pockets... you don't want people around. It is hard enough to let those you love come in. But peripheral friends- those from work who come to your Pampered chef parties, and you gossip with about other friends... it is a time for them to stand back.
I am going to miss her.
Cindi had a foul mouth. She smoked. Many people feel she lied incessantly.
I don't think she lied. I think she gave the sensational headline stories of her life. Those things, that when you hear the story behind the headline, you agree that while the headline was true, it made more of a story than the actual story.
Cindi had one of the kindest hearts I have ever known. If you got past the gruff, bluff, and bravado- you found a heart of gold. A champion of justice- always for the underdog. From arms length, you saw someone you might think hated men. Inside, there was a woman so hurt she was afraid to let men close. She was outspoken and generous to a fault. In one of our last conversations, when she was so in and out of lucidity- she asked if it was wrong that she she still felt love for a person who had wronged her very deeply. I told her it was never wrong to love.
The last few times I saw her outside of hospice, Cindi told me she was sure God has a purpose in her life, she was searching for that purpose. She grew so much in love and forgiveness those last months.
Every time I visited in hospice, I wondered if it was for the last time. I would hate to leave. I promised to be back when I could.
Once I got home today, I called a mutual friend. I learned from her, Cindi asked not to have a memorial service. In this one thing, I would defy her wishes. A memorial service isn't for those who go on. It is an opportunity for those who remain to voice their respects.
I am already grieving. My time to spend with my friend has ended, even if her hours remain.