My mother’s best friend (other than me) is a lovely, wonderful, amazing, loving woman who worked in the same office with Mom for a LOT of years. Sixteen years? Seventeen? I’m not sure specifically but M has been a part of our lives for what seems like forever. She loves my mother like a sister, and she’s basically part of our family. She and Mom used to be early-birds at the office, so they always talked early in the morning as they shared coffee or tea, or breakfast, or whatever. And in recent months, M has told me privately that my mother has shared a lot with her, especially how Mom worries about Dad, and how he will handle her death. Also, as we would have all expected, how Mom worries about all of us. They talk on a different level than Mom and I do, and I’m incredibly grateful that M is in our lives…that M is a part of Mom’s life.
M stopped by to visit on her way home from somewhere today, sort of on a whim. She called from the car and then stopped by Mom’s house. I ran over to say hello and to give M a hug, and I ended up walking her to her car as she was ready to leave. M told me that another co-worker of theirs–who has been living with cancer for something like 8 years–is coming to the end of her journey. That’s where M was this afternoon, visiting that co-worker/friend. She couldn’t bear to tell Mom that the other person had few days left to live. M and I hugged, we cried a little, I told her to come again soon.
I went back to Mom’s to say goodnight, then started my walk home. As I did, I realized that M has a very different struggle than I do with Mom’s disease. M’s husband died of cancer after a long journey (I don’t like the word “fight”), now her best friend is dying of cancer…and another co-worker friend is even closer to dying of cancer. When M and I hugged good bye next to her car, I told her I loved her, and I thanked her for being a part of our family. Her tears were for Mom–as were mine–but I think that we both cried for ourselves a little. She has her story that she has lived, I have mine. Neither is better or worse, just different.
I have my own losses to live with, deaths and grief that I’ve struggled with. This is my mother dying now, but I felt the need to comfort M for her losses. I wanted to make it “okay” for her, even though that is in no way possible. I find myself trying to comfort the other people who talk to me about Mom. My father, my aunt and my uncle, my cousins, Mom’s friend, other extended family members… Not that they are ignoring me, because they aren’t. I don’t mean it that way. I don’t know what I mean. There’s a lot of that going on with me these days. I feel mixed up, numb and emotional at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat somewhere, absolutely silent and still, but inside I’m wanting to rage and throw things and just go crazy. I don’t, but I want to.
Sometimes I wonder if one of these times when I break down, when I have some outburst or whatever, that I won’t be able to come back from it. I think that’s why I don’t always let go…there’s just this fear that I won’t be able to recover or crawl out of whatever pit I let myself fall into. It hasn’t happened yet, and so I hold on that small ray of hope.