It’s funny how you can go about your life, day by day, going through the motions, then life throws you a sucker punch right in the gut. It takes your breath away. Then your life becomes divided into everything before that day, and everything after. One of my best friends died last week from a massive heart attack. Gone. Just like that. She was only 52 years old. We had been together exactly one week ago from her death. Little did I know that when I hugged her goodbye that it would be the last time I would see her alive.
Jan and I had been friends for well over 18 years. We met through our children – we both had 2 – a boy and a girl. But the opposite sexes were the same ages, so our kids didn’t become fast friends; just we did.
We’d been through a lot of tough times together: the loss of my parents, the death of her father, a very messy divorce on her part, and an estrangement from her daughter. We remained friends no matter where she lived – when she had to sell her house after the divorce and move into an apartment in the next town, and when she bought a town home and moved back into our town. We stayed in touch once I sold my house, and began traveling around the country in my trailer.
But most of the time we were together we just had fun. We would laugh and laugh. Jan had a great laugh and a great smile. We both loved nature – plants, animals, the ocean, the beach, sunshine. We both loved to read and compared books we were reading and favorite.
We loved to stroll through cemeteries and read the old grave stones. Sometimes we’d just sit amongst them and talk. Jan loved to hear true ghost stories and wanted desperately to go to a graveyard at night. I was too chicken to do it.
Jan was the person I’d watch scary movies with. We’d get a large bucket of popcorn and our drinks, hunker down in the darkened theater, and inevitably I’d either have to scream, grab Jan’s leg or hand, or even slap her (which I’d been known to do) during the scary parts. That always set Jan off to laughing during the movie. On our last night together I told Jan how I had taped several scary movies off of my DVR. She said that she couldn’t wait and we’d have to set up a date to watch them.
For some reason, we got on the subject of doctors and appointments, and she informed me that she was never going to have a pap smear or mammogram because if they ever found anything, that she wasn’t planning to do anything about it. I thought about that a lot after she died.
We also talked about her visiting me in Arizona this winter – she really wanted to come out last year but didn’t make it. I bugged her about it because I knew she would love Arizona with its mountain views, warm weather, and interesting cacti plants.
When I got the call that Jan had passed away, it was surreal. She had no signs of being sick; or at least she didn’t tell anyone if she did. I’m glad that she didn’t suffer. I’ve seen too many family members struggle with cancer in their last years.
I feel cheated that Jan was taken at such a young age. We had so many things yet to do together! But I will carry her in my heart, and I know she will be watching over me from heaven. Maybe if I’m lucky, I might hear that great laugh of hers every once in awhile. I know I will think of her when I walk along the shore of the beach, or when there is a beautiful sunset. She was a great friend, and I will miss her dearly.