Thursday, July 14, 2011

Losing Friends

I haven't had very many people I'm close to pass away. For that I am grateful. I've lost my grandparents but they had lived a full life and I got 30 years with them. My immediate family are all still living. I am NOT ready to experience that type of pain. But I did lose a close friend and my favorite cousin in the whole wide world this year. Those losses really, really hurt.

The first loss was a friend of mine everyone called The President. He was such a great guy; he had hundreds and hundreds of friends. There were always tons of people at his house and when he went out to our neighborhood club, everyone knew him by name. He had a knack of always making you feel like the prettiest person even if you were scuzzed out, looking like a dog. He always called me pretty girl. But then again, he called every female pretty girl.

One day he was driving home and got lost. It took him 7 hours to get back to his neighborhood and when he did, he was found in the middle of a golf course. When he went to the doctor they discovered that he had some tumors in his brain the size of golf balls. No wonder he got lost!!! The night before his surgery to remove them, his hospital room was totally full. Standing room only. For hours. So many people wanted to be near him and wish him well. The nurses commented on the amazing number of friends he had. To wish him well, I found a picture that looked like an x-ray of Homer Simpson's head with a teeny weeny brain floating around in there. I labeled that x-ray "before." After his surgery I brought another picture of Homer's x-ray only this time, I added some items to the brain cavity. I put in a power drill, motorcycle sprocket, chain saw, watch and some other junk that had accidentally been left behind. He got a big laugh out of that.

We all thought he would get better but just a month later, more tumors were found. They tried to take those out, too. He spent a while in rehab and you can bet that his room was always full of well wishers. He finally got to go home but Prez wasn't his usual bubbly self. We all knew that things weren't good. He kept a stiff upper lip and would always joke about things like he didn't have a care in the world. But I could tell that he knew his days were numbered. There were fund raisers and birthdays for him and hundreds of people showed up. The last get together was somber. Prez was there, but he barely spoke and didn't seem to be with it. A week or two later he died. He didn't want a funeral so the day that he died, people just started showing up at his house. There were over 100 people that stopped by that day and everyone hoisted a beer in his name. Some of the people got drunk, some cried, some laughed and told funny stories. I hope that it was a day that he would have liked.

I also lost my beloved cousin, Scott to ALS this year. He lasted over a year from the date of his diagnosis. It all started when he noticed that his foot was dragging a little and he was feeling sort of weak. His brother, a doctor, suspected that he had ALS but didn't come right out and say it until it was proven. What a horrible thing to carry around. Scott was a worker bee. He worked lots of long hours and was really good at his job. For a while, he tried to hide the illness but eventually he needed to use a cane. Then a walker. Then a wheelchair. He kept working until it got to the point where he couldn't move his hands.

He was my most favorite relative of all time (besides Mom and my kids). While my horrid brothers and cousins and their friends picked on me, he was always kind. He took time to talk to me and actually listen to what I had to say. At times when I thought I couldn't stand things any more, he was always the one who made me feel better. He didn't have to do any grandiose gestures. He was just himself. The kindest, most gentle, beautiful person to ever walk the earth. I was with him the night he breathed his last breath. He was unresponsive and I tried yelling into his ear, tickling him, shaking him, begging and pleading for him to wake up one more time. I held his unresponsive hand and even in that most horrible moment, I was comforted by the warmth of him. I am grateful to have had the chance to sit with him and say my goodbyes. I miss him every single day and will forever. I can't wait to see him again when my days end.

My daughter's friend has a boyfriend who had a stroke that has rendered him totally unresponsive. His organs are starting to shut down. How terrible that must be for his poor family. I feel their pain and I hope a miracle happens to bring their son, brother, boyfriend back. It just goes to show that when your time is up, it's up.

I was explaining to my youngest kidlet how these days, it's common for friends to hug one another. 20 years ago it wasn't as common. I'm really glad that it's P.C. to hug and show affection. I tell all of my friends and family how much I love them. It's not embarrasing in the least because I know that in the blink of an eye the person standing right in front of you can be gone. And life is way too short to be embarrased to show something that is fact. Hug your friends, call your grandma, let your ultra special person know that they're da bomb. It only takes a second and it feel great.

I love you all!

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