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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Just walk beside me, and be my friend."

I know a woman, she is better than an acquaintance but not what I would call friend. This is because, in my smallish world, "friend" is what many call "best friend" and of friends I have maybe half a dozen. I know people from the Internet, people I would never have met otherwise but for a dysfunctional message board we all ended up in, and some of those people I consider friends, even though we are face to face seldom, if ever. They are my support, my rocks, and I hope I can be the same to them.

There are others, from the same dysfunctional place, people I have met. Some I like. One betrayed me. That was the one I spent a lot of time with before I realized that perky is just a blurred and narrow line away from psychotic. This I know for a fact, a hard, nasty, cruel fact. Although I actually ran across her accidentally in cyberspace a week or so ago and I was somewhat saddened to discover that she hasn't changed and still considers herself just too adorable for words. Trust me...boobs are perky. Women over 40 are not, nor should they aspire to be. Seriously, get over yourself.

But this is the story about someone else from that same place. She's a pleasant woman, a bit younger than me. Okay, more than a bit. I understand, from people I trust beyond trust, that she could be, shall we say, manipulative and unstable. I can see some of that. But I have met her and her family, and spent a pleasant hour or so under a shady tree just shooting the breeze. While I do believe what I heard in this respect, I also say that I never had any run ins or quarrel with her. I can see a bit of what people have told me, not to go into detail, but there was some pettiness at one point. I shrugged it off and when she popped back into my life I said sure," hi, nice to see you" because it was.

She lives in another state and we're more pen pals than anything else. I noticed that there is some maturity as the years have passed, and that's the way it should be. Not someone crowing that they're "perky" or "bubbly" or some such nonsense. I've got nothing against an effervescent personality, but I find that when one has to describe oneself with those terms, and used them to define him (or her) self when prompted, well, that's self-absorption that defies language.

Several months ago, long the first of the year, my out of state friend popped into my cyber life again and, as usual, I said "Hi!"  Before I said something that unintentionally offended, she sent a lot of her Internet (and personal, I imagine) friends a note. She had been feeling ill and thought her fibromyalgia was taking a turn for the worse. After a lot of doctor's visits came the call, the one that everyone fears and makes every one's blood run cold. It wasn't fibromyalgia.

It was acute leukemia.

I mentioned  to my two friends, the ones who were wary of her, what was happening. One of them said "I heard from someone else. That poor girl, she must be terrified!" THIS is what good people do. They keep perspective. They do NOT hold grudges, they have sympathy for someone who is in trouble. I initially wasn't unsure if I should tell them, there WAS, indeed, some bad blood there. But frankly, I kind of needed to tell them, I'm not sure why. Just as I say an occasional prayer that the perky one and her band of stone faced harpies doesn't find out, because they will immediately hit Partypalooza for balloons, paper plates  and other celebratory items. Because they're disgusting. But I digress...

Through the last six months or so I have watched my ill friend, via the Internet, take the journey of her life. She has withstood more chemo than any living creature should have to withstand. Her first marrow doner was found unsuitable. She has spend literally months in hospital, in isolation.  She had seven rounds of chemo in 10 days before Christmas and kept her humor through all of it. Her hair fell out, and when it started growing back, it had turned white. She made fun of her bald pate. She reported on visits and gifts, and asked for prayers, freely given.

Her family reconciled with one another, and a few of them with her, and she felt that the journey was worth it to have them back in her life, a silver lining in this threatening cloud. I am amazed at her courage and her spirit. She has traveled to the gates of Hell and is smiling while she tells her tale, certain that she will be turning back, and soon.

A backup doner had been located, a young man in Europe. Seven days ago she began intensive chemo, six treatments in six days. She spend the first three days eating junk food until the expected nausea hit, so bad she ended up in the ER a few nights ago.

Today she posted a picture, which I share with you: I don't think it's ooky, but you might and for that, I apologize:


That's not a blood transfusion. She's watching the rest of her life. That's bone marrow. All of that chemo poison killed a lot of stuff, including her own marrow, she had the last of it yesterday. Today, that bag was hooked up to her line and being fed into her bloodstream. That cherry colored stuff will then look for something it can latch on to...and what it will find is her marrow less skeleton.

She will spend 100 days with no outside dust, no ungarbed visitors and no JUNK FOOD. The danger of fast food is too great a risk, healthy people tend to fight off the constant barrage of infectious organisms being served up at Mickey Ds and friends, but when one's immune system is compromised that McRib will turn into McSalmonella.

I'm not one of those people who go around talking about JAYsus! at any given time, but it makes one think, you know? How appropriate that, with Easter less that two weeks I can see someone coming back to life. Sure, she's not rising from the dead, but look at that. It's new life. Actually it's shared life, a young man somewhere in Europe offered to share his life and his health with a stranger and isn't that just the most amazing thing ever?

There's no deep philosophy here. It's just a true story, one going on even as I type this. Something that was educational to me has become part of my reality and it's absolutely magnificent. I feel privileged that she let me follow along with her on this journey. It just proves that bitterness and ugliness of spirit will prevent you from something wonderful. Those people who exercised such callousness and hatred, and harbor those feelings to this day? I actually feel sorry for them right now. If I were to list some of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, I would mention my sons. I would add the  Northern Lights and the Milky Way. I would put Michelangelo's "Pieta" and the Shrine of Lourdes on it. I would list the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset and the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. And I would list that bag, that bag of life. I smile every time I look at it, and I am filled with wonder and happiness. And the haters and the naysayers won't know what it feels like. Because they have put such a price on their friendships that they can not possibly know the pleasure of just being friends.

And that's a sad thing indeed.