People have asked me if I got to say goodbye. I didn't. The last message we got from Jo was the day before she died. She said she felt poopy and that she was having crazy dreams. I knew she was seriously ill, but I had no inkling that she would die the very next day, so there were no goodbyes. However, I had told her many times in the weeks and months before she died that I loved her very much... so I feel... ok (at peace?) about that.
Tomorrow, less than a week after Jo's funeral, I am going to visit one of my other very close friends in hospital. She too has breast cancer, it too spread to her liver, she too was originally diagnosed a year ago. She is 38 years old, seriously ill, and her doctors have given her a matter of weeks, at most, to live.
Everyone who knows her is currently praying and wishing hard for a miracle. This woman is phenomenally strong, phenomenally determined. If anyone could prove doctors wrong, it's definitely her. And I will not let go of hope. As far as I'm concerned, while you're alive, there's hope.
But I have to also face a reality. Tomorrow might be the last time I see her.
I've shared descriptions of cancer from Siddhartha Mukherjee's book before, and they've come back to mind today. There are a lot of women with breast cancer who understandably don't like to use the word "fight". However, Rosie does and she has been fighting hard from day 1, and I know she is still fighting hard right now. But Mukherjee is absolutely right, cancer is a lethal shape shifting entity, it is the emporer of all maladies, the king of terrors, the most relentless and insidious enemy.
And so, tomorrow, when I leave the hospital, that really might be the last time I see her. I don't want to say goodbye. I don't even want to think it. I don't know how to say it. I don't know if I even should say it. It is just plain wrong to be saying goodbye to friends who are in their 30s. So, so wrong.