Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Saddest Drop-In

I didn't want to play hockey tonight. Not at all. See, I found out today that a dear friend, about whom I've used the words, "Sister from another mother," is facing the final days of her life.

She has cancer. It started as colon cancer, she had surgery and they tried to get it all and she was doing well for a while. But it was pretty advanced when they found it and, like cancer tends to do, it creeps around the body, hiding from the chemo, and flourishes.

At least, that's what it did to Leisa. And we hear tonight those words you dread: "If you want to see her, come seen her soon."

Even though she's a Texas girl like me (more reason to love her), I met Leisa along with a bunch of girls online. We all had a mutual sensibility and formed our own little private community. We shared in each others pain and joy. We've had babies born, divorces, affairs, marriages. We've gone on trips together, we've been held each others hair while we puked from drinking too much, we've been lazy together and rowdy together, we've rallied around each other.

We lost another sister, Angie, to cancer several years ago and still talk of her often. We will lose Leisa soon, too, and while we have known it's inevitable for a while, it still feels sudden. Our hearts are collectively so heavy and we feel so helpless. I feel like gravity is heavier or pulling harder or whatever the fuck gravity does. I feel leaden. And just so, so sad.

So, playing hockey tonight, caring about that little black disc through my sad fog, just felt like the last thing I wanted to do. I really wanted to lie in bed and cry.

Leisa is special to me because not only is she one of the funniest people I know (we dubbed it The Funny Truck, because she'd just come out of nowhere with a one-liner that was so priceless and clever and off the wall, it would knock us over laughing), but we also share a lot of the same neuroses and I find that charming in a person. Let's be crazy together, and in a similar fashion, my love!

She never had nor wanted kids, which of course, is rare to find in an adult female, so I appreciated her voice when I was struggling with feeling like a complete weirdo for not wanting kids.

She's just in her 40s. A sincere and devoted Christian. An animal lover. A gentle soul with a biting wit and deep kindness.

Anyway, I went and played, heavy heart and all. I just hoped that endorphins would sit their fat ass on my fragility and hold me together. And indeed they did. In fact, I felt so focused and in the zone during the first 15 minutes, I thought I was destined to have one of my best games ever. The puck was in my end a lot, but I felt good. Bring it on.

And then the fact that I hadn't eaten for about 9 hours (I know, dumb, but I just had no appetite) hit me like a brick wall. It was like the life drained out of my toes, and I ended up spending most of the game in survival mode. I stayed on my feet as much as possible, or if I went down, I stayed down until I had to get up again.

Finally, a few skaters left and the game slowed to a crawl, so I bailed. The clock was off, and it turns out we'd been out for an hour and a half (we're usually only get a little over an hour). For feeling so shitty, it went fast.

I got to my car, read some more messages from the girls about how Leisa is doing, how sad we all are, and I just broke down. I sobbed there in the parking lot. Everything just feels wrong. And I guess that's how it's supposed to feel.

But I'm also grateful to Leisa, for showing so much grace during her illness; to her husband, who is doting on her mercilessly and in whom I have utter faith in this awful time for him; to my friends, for being stronger than me in the face of a crisis (I'm such an ostrich, but we have enough "go getter, ring-leader" types to keep our momentum going); to hockey for forcing me to be ALIVE and feel things and work up a sweat rather than sitting home crying.

I'm just raw and fragile and I hate that feeling. But that is life, I guess. I want a shirt that says, "My dear friend is dying and I'm really, really sad, so I'm sorry if I start crying for no apparent reason." And I hate saying, "I'm good. How are you?" when what I mean is, "I'm devastated and I need a hug."

At this point, our goal is just to make sure she's comfortable and knows she's loved beyond measure. And I think that mission is being accomplished, so I do find solace in that.

I dunno. Life is weird and terrifying and beautiful and simple and complicated, isn't it? Sorry for being a downer, and for rambling. My heart and mind are a rambling place right now, though. And this blog was always, at its roots, about getting stuff off my chest, processing my thoughts, and lightening my mental load.

What this does, however, is guarantee that I'll not wait so long between posts, as knowing this one is at the top is just too sad.


artandhockey  April 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM  

HUGS....my mom died of the big CC at age 54! When I was just 19.. so I do know what you are going through.. so HUGS! And need a preety soft shoulder to cry on? Have such can travel.

Ms. Conduct  April 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM  

Wow, Christa, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. And I appreciate the hugs. I'm feeling much better after some sleep and sunshine, you know? Not that anything is looking up on Leisa's end, other than I think we all feel like we've shown her as much love as we can. She's at the point where she's heavily sedated and very weak, from what I hear. I suppose we're fortunate to get time to sort of gain acceptance and let her go with peace in our hearts.

artandhockey  April 18, 2012 at 12:04 PM  

HUGS. Yes, life does go on. Dig out photos of and with her and remember all the good times.
Pray for her AND her family, love her, think about her and ..cry, it does help!

Dee  April 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM  

Having lost 2 very dear friends in the last 23 months from C I can relate to your rawness. There is nothing so demeaning in this life than to realize there's nothing you can do to heal a loved one. Being there with her will give her the strength she needs in her final hours and to be able to let go. Be with her. Don't stay away. You don't have to say anything. You can cry together. Or you can laugh your asses off. But be with her. Then take her spirit with you as you move forward in your life and she'll never leave your heart. God Bless and Be Strong.

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