This book is coming to me from Amazon. Because when I'm sad I like to dive in and wallow in the sad. Swim in it. Do a backstroke and then flip over float face down in despair. I think this wonderful story of a woman's grief will help me to do just that.
In the event that you are looking for a beautiful, precious, tragic and sad tale, I have a few selections for you:
The Bridges of Madison County
Tuesdays With Morrie
The Red Tent
A Time to Kill
Bridge to Terabithia
To Kill a Mockingbird
And I hear from my friend Mary (and a few thousand other people) that this one might be good for jerking a tear or two. We shall see...
I met Heather in Mr. Williams 7th grade homeroom class. She sat in the next row. She had thick red hair and Jordache jeans. We started out just talking in class. About the teacher (Crazy. Not just odd, actually NUTSO. Left teaching the next year cause he was honest to god crazy.), about boys (Vance Beltran - 7th grade GOD sat right behind me. And occasionally he spoke to me. She witnessed these events), about school work (Lame. Always.), about ourselves.
We became best friends. We walked to school together every day of high school. We spent summers together. Mostly at her house because her folks were there. Her dad worked out of a home office in the converted garage long before it was normal to have a home office. Her mom was a stay at home Mom. She encouraged us to be kind and respectful. She called us MITs (Moms In Training). She cooked delicious treats (popcorn, chocolate donuts, fried fish and okra, biscuits and gravy) and made us feel welcome and loved.
Heather's Mom was a devoutly Christian woman. She knew her Bible chapter and verse but never forced her beliefs on anyone. She was kind and gentle and strong and loving. For the past 24 plus years she has been a second mom to me.
Heather's Mom loved my kids and their accomplishments and quirks like they were her own grand kids. She was lucky enough to have 2 grand kids of her own and she has delighted in them from the moment they hit the planet.
A little over 5 years ago doctors found a lump. Since then she has weathered 3 progressively worse rounds of chemotherapy. She withstood radiation, fatigue, pain and nausea. This year things got a lot worse for her and about 2 1/2 months ago the doctors told her family that she would not be surviving this. When Heather's dad asked if the doctors were talking 18 months (?) they let him know that they were talking more like 3 months.
From that moment everything changed. Suddenly people she loved were making time. Time for long distance visits, time for dinners and shopping and chats. Time for making chocolate donuts. Time together.
When she was asked what she would want to do she said she wanted to go to Greece.
And so all of those people who loved her and felt impotent because they couldn't do anything to change her prognosis suddenly had something they could do. They chipped in and sent her and her husband to Europe. To Italy and Greece for two weeks. This vacation was to have ended last Thursday.
Heather's mom, Phyllis Davis Kelly, died peacefully tonight. About one hour ago.
My best friend's heart is shattered and will never be the same again.
I loved Phyllis. I will love my friend and will remember her mother with with her for all the years that I have left here. I will tell stories to Heather's children about their wonderful grandmother. Her kindness, her humor, her amazing capacity for love and depth of patience beyond my understanding. I will make chocolate donuts and know that they will never taste as good or as sweet because the woman who perfected them is gone.
This is too hard.
So my first kid, she's pretty great.
My second kid is quite OK, too. But that first one, she and I are an interesting team. I have a lot to learn in this earthly plane. And this one has a lot to teach me.
Last weekend was a 10 year-old's Shangri-La. Two birthday parties, photo session and a pedicure for her "graduation" (called "promotion" officially at the tiny school on our mountain).
First birthday party was a scavenger hunt at the mall. With cash and prizes. Second party was at the Fairmont. With swimming in the hotel and dinner at the fancy restaurant. (I'm going to interject here that I have never stayed at the Fairmont or eaten at said fancy restaurant, myself.)
Then the photo sessions. Two of them. For her dance classes.
Then off to the pedicure at the fancy new nail joint in town. Hers are purple with tropical flowers. Mine are pink-red. Wonderful by any standard.
When we got home she decided to bust out a Christmas gift that she hadn't touched since Christmas day. Because she needed to do something fun, I guess. Because life bores you when there aren't photographers standing by and teams of your friends swarming around you for extravagant fun every hour of the day.
When she started tearing the desk apart looking for the packaging from the gift we started arguing. And talking in circles. And I was trying to make her understand that when a package is opened in December, it is reasonable to assume that the packaging will be recycled some time before June. She was informing me that there was VERY important info on that packaging, and SOMEONE had better pony-up said packaging, or there was gonna be trouble.
I finally got fed up and said, "Look, just because you've had a weekend full of fabulous-ness doesn't mean you get to treat me like crap!"
This is where it gets ugly. Because I said "crap." And in my kid's eyes "crap" is a SERIOUS cuss word. SERIOUS. Seriously.
So she told me that I embarrass her sometimes. And other mom's don't cuss at their kids. And that she thinks that she is a better person than me.
What is a cussing addict to do?
I sent her to her room. Duh.
While she was in her room I invited her to be a little grateful for what she had and maybe even a little thankful for all that she is given every day.
And she cried. She felt bad. And she wrote me a lovely letter. Two pages about what a great mom I am and how I have always put her brother and her first, how she wants to be more like me and think about other people more than she currently does. Which, from my perspective, can't be all that hard.
So when we had a chance we talked. And I let her know that, sadly, she was stuck with me for a mom. But the good news was that she gets to know that her mom is a whole person. Not a Barbie, not a paper doll, but a flawed, imperfect, whole mommy/wife/daughter/friend. That what I want most in the world is not to to hand out guarantees that I will behave perfectly in each and every situation that I encounter, but rather that no matter where I go and what I do I will be loving her. And I will be her life long cheerleader no matter what. Even if she tells me that I suck and that she hates me. Even if she thinks that I am the most embarrassing person on the face of the Earth. Even if she wants to move away from me and never look back. I will love her. She will be in my heart and wherever I am she will have a safe place to come home to.
Even if I'm smoking and cussing and singing show tunes off-key while wearing fluffy slippers and a turquoise robe over my clothes.