Monday, September 26, 2011

Friendship's wings

My friend died on Saturday.

There are a million and one things to say about this, but the foggy swirl of grief and remembrance is making me nervous that I'll forget something important - that I won't eulogize her in the way she deserves.

So I will just say this:

She went to visit my dad one day while he was in dialysis. They were receiving treatment in the same hospital; one for kidney failure, one for cancer. She had never met him, but she wanted to stop in and say hello to the man I'd talked so much about. 

Like everyone to whom I introduced Liz, he was instantly smitten. After their brief, and only, meeting, he asked about her constantly - even when he could finally no longer remember her name. And he prayed for her fervently. One of the last things he ever said to me was that he was praying for her, and that I was to tell her.

On my last visit to Liz, when she was so weakened that it was sometimes difficult to hear or understand what she was saying, she told me, through tears that threatened to shatter me, that she would look after my Thomas. Over and over again, she said she would look after my boy for me.

A mother leaving her own children here, pledging to take care of mine there.

She had acknowledged her death before. We both knew she was going to die - she was frank, was Liz. But this time I knew she could see it. It was both frightening and beautiful all at once. She was close enough to begin planning what she would do once she left us, and I was in grateful awe that she chose to make my boy part of it. And that, God bless her, she made sure I knew.

I've only known Liz as someone journeying with cancer. I met her shortly after her diagnosis in 2009. But cancer never defined her - she refused to let it. She lived fiercely and fully, and with more grace, courage and humour than I ever thought possible under such heartbreaking circumstances.

Someone who takes time to visit an old man they've never met in dialysis while on her way to chemotherapy? Well, that's just the best kind of person there is - and someone I'm so proud and honoured to have called my friend.

Love you, Liz. Godspeed, and thank you for watching over my boy.