Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sad News From my Friend

Cheryl has been my friend since we were in diapers. Our mothers were pregnant at the same time. Cheryl was born three months after me. They were almost as much family as family was to me. It didn't hurt that Mom used to be married to Cheryl's great-uncle before she married my father. That's how they all got to know one another.

When we were in 4th grade, Cheryl's mother had another baby. She was the first baby I'd ever been around. They named her Vicki. She was always smiling, got the giggles frequently, and rarely, if ever, was a brat. I remember spending the night once at Cheryl's and waking in the morning to see Vicki's face right in front of mine, hand over her mouth, trying her best to not laugh out loud. Cheryl was standing behind her also trying not to laugh. The first thing Vicki said was, "You snore!!!" She was maybe four. We were probably 14. I know we were in Junior High by then.

Vicki was never an annoying little kid to me. She didn't try to follow us everywhere or interrupt what we were doing or any of the other things younger siblings are so famous for. She was just a good kid.

We're all grown now. Vick's about 48. Her daughter's going to be a Senior in High School in the fall. But, yesterday it was discovered that Vicki has inoperable brain cancer. They've already called in hospice, it's that far advanced. Apparently, Vicki, who had already recovered from breast cancer while in her 20s, had cancer of the lymph nodes a few years back, but she refused to have chemo. Eventually, she just stopped going to the doctor completely. Lately, she began having difficulty walking, hearing and talking. She still refused to see a doctor and wouldn't go to the hospital even when 911 was called.

Monday, she decided it was time to go. She thought she'd had a stroke. One side of her body wasn't responding and her face was drooping on that side. When she got to the hospital, they did brain scans and found three spots in her brain. The cancer had moved on and all her physical problems were caused by the effects of the cancer on the parts of the brain that controlled those functions.

My friend is wracked with sorrow. This is her baby sister. This is the sister who should be checking in on HER infirmities some day, not the other way around. She has been crying ever since she learned. She and her husband drove the six hours from Virginia to be with Vicki. They have no idea (or didn't when we last spoke) what they would do or how they could help, but they knew Cheryl had to be here for her sister.

They also have a brother, but he cut all ties with both of them once the money his parents left him ran out. Vicki doesn't want him to know. Cheryl, who was the executor of her parents' wills, thinks that's appropriate because of how he behaved at his father's funeral. Very disruptive, noisy, arriving late, causing a scene, no indication of sorrow at all. So, for all intents and purposes, Cheryl feels that when she loses her sister, she'll be like an only child. Since I am one, I can actually relate to that. She's always had a brother and a sister. But, the last seven years have brought such change into their lives that she feels it is all being taken from her. Her brother's psychological issues and now Vicki's cancer. I can't even begin to imagine how much this hurts.

This has been weighing on my mind since she told me. There was nothing I could say to make the pain go away or improve. I can't fix it. I can't do anything but be here to listen when she needs to talk about it. I think sometimes, that is enough.

Originally published to Bubblews on July 5.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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