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Elite Ladies

Losing a friend

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SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
I first got to know B 20 years ago, two years after my mom died. They had been best friends since childhood, and had kept in touch across the years and miles between them. I had never met her but had always known of her...I remember my mom telling me when I was very young that B was her best friend, and I asked how do you know who is your best friend? She said that your best friend is the person you can tell anything to, the person you don't have to hide anything from.

Two years after my mom passed I was going through some of her stuff and found old pictures that I thought were of the two of them at about 10yo. I sent them to her with a letter, she called me, and that was the beginning of what became one of the most important relationships in my life. Ten years later her husband died, and that's when I started keeping in closer touch with her. She was living alone in their house, had no children, didn't trust her family, and over time became more and more reclusive and isolated.

My sister F lives near her, thank God. They had become good friends as well, and all of B's social life involved F's family. I would check in by phone two or three times a week, and over time she became like a second mom to me. One Tuesday night in July 2018 we had our usual conversation, and I told her I would call in a couple days.

I meant to call Thursday night, and don't know why I didn't. Turned out to be one of those little things in life you end up never quite forgiving yourself for. Early Friday afternoon my sister called me and said she was heading over to B's, a neighbor had called her because B hadn't gotten her newspaper for two days and wasn't answering the phone. Police had been called and were enroute.

She had fallen Wednesday morning and had been unable to get up. (Those commercials aren't funny to me anymore.) Amazingly, she hadn't broken anything or hit her head, and was with-it enough to tell the first cop she saw that he was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen.

First the hospital, then months in a wonderful rehab. When she went home she needed a walker, and couldn't drive anymore. I became more and more concerned. F became more and more a caretaker, doing the groceries and things like that. B had always been very independent and private, and it was hard for her to both need and accept help.

It was such a blessing to me that F was there, because all I could do from here was call B every day. Those conversations will always be a treasure in my soul.

There were some hard conversations about some hard possibilities, and B made F both general and medical POA and Executrix. There had been rudimentary documents signed while she was in rehab, but B had very deep concerns about her family someday challenging her will. She really thought that every time her sister called, it was to see if she was still alive only because her sister felt entitled to B's house after B died.

So when it was decided that F would buy B's house, we insisted that B see a lawyer. It was imperative that everything legal be as bulletproof as possible, and that her sister not be able to claim we had exerted undue influence over B so F could buy the house. I called Elder Services in her county and they were kind enough to give me a list of locals who wouldn't screw over an old lady. She found a great lawyer who was very thorough, and I believe her documents are as bulletproof as can be.

I guess it's been five or six months since the whole House saga started...it was all really complicated. B moved to a great retirement/assisted living community while the whole thing was playing out, and they finally closed on December 23. That afternoon when I spoke to B on the phone, she said the lawyer's wife had come that morning for her to sign the deed, and she had been concerned that B was emotional about the sale, and she had told B to try to get some rest and relax. B said she was having intermittent shortness of breath, which set off alarm bells in my head. Are you coughing? no. In pain? no. Fever? no. Just occasional shortness of breath. We talked about how, even though she was happy in her new place and very happy her house was staying in our family, it was still an emotional thing for her...that was where she last lived with her husband of 45 years, a man she never stopped missing. She insisted she was just having some anxiety, but I was uneasy when we hung up. I thought about calling the facility and asking them to go up and have someone check her vitals even though she had said No to every symptom I had asked about, then thought about how pissed she would be if I did that, and I didn't. Turned out to be another one of those unforgivable things.

I called her back a few hours later, and she said she was feeling better, and she sounded better. She said the shortness of breath was decreasing, so I felt relieved but still worried. The next day was Christmas Eve, and when we talked she said she was feeling much better, she was just a little tired. She sounded better so I tried not to worry.

Christmas morning the facility manager was concerned when she didn't come down for breakfast, since she had also taken the prior day's meals in her apartment. She told me later that as soon as she saw B she dialed 911. Her skin was a gray green color the manager had seen before, and she knew this was serious.

B has been fighting a chronic UTI for months, and now in addition to that she had pneumonia and sepsis, and was having a heart attack when she arrived at the hospital. That would be a challenge at any age, but at 85 it's even more so. She was in ICU for several days, then transferred to a regular room. My sister of course was involved as the medical POA, so she was really pissed when she got there on New Year's Eve to visit and B was gone. They had transferred her to a nursing facility without consulting or even notifying F.

She was there for five days (I think, it's all kind of a blur) and went downhill every day. Last Saturday morning they found her unresponsive with her blood pressure ping-ponging all over the place. They called F and said they were calling an ambulance, and F arranged to meet them at the ER. She called me when she got there and was concerned because the ambulance wasn't there yet. She called the rehab and they said EMS had had to work on her before they could transport her, and F and I worried that she had crashed enroute and they had pulled over to work on her some more.

What had happened was the EMS crew didn't think she would survive the trip to the designated hospital, so they took her to a closer one. She was about as close to dead as a person could be and still be living. I booked a flight for Sunday with a return today.

Her labs got a little better every day, but her spirit is gone. She's refusing to eat. Every time something was said about her going home to her apartment, a look crossed her face that told me... that is not the home she wants to go to. I felt in my bones that I won't see her on this earth again.

So I made sure I told her everything it was important for her to know...that she's been a second mom to me, and I appreciate having her in my life. That for the rest of my days when I stick my feet in the ocean, I'll think of her and how we laughed about how we both love the ocean but don't want to go in deeper than our ankles. That I will treasure the wonderful picture of her with my son, because she helped fill a Grandma void that he doesn't even realize was there. That I will miss her every single day, always.

She cried last night when I told her I had to leave this morning. So did I. I cried in the airport and on the plane. I cried on BF's shoulder when he picked me up. I cried in the shower when I got home. I'm crying right now.

I wish she wanted to stay. But I understand how she feels, her medical outlook is dire. She's gotten medically a little better, but is still seriously ill. She's in pain and often confused. I wouldn't want to stay either if I were her.

I remember about a week before my mom died she said, It's coming. Why fight it? She had accepted it, and I had to accept it too.

It is a tremendous blessing to actually have the opportunity to say Goodbye. I see a lot of death certificates at work, so I know that's often not the case.

I wish I could be more optimistic about her outlook, and nothing will ever make me happier than if my feeling turns out to be wrong.

:cry:
 

SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
Thank you all...the last update I got was around noon. The dr. came in and told F that B's organs are shutting down, her body is just worn out. They are giving her oxygen but we have told them no to a ventilator...she was clear in her wishes, and we will respect them even as it breaks our hearts.
 

papasmerf

Senior Member
Joined Aug 9, 2010
Messages 33,654
May you find Joy in her life and Peace from her Joy.

I know all too well how hard this is.
 

DILLIGAF

Reviewer
Joined Nov 22, 2016
Messages 1,221
Silly Girl
At this time it is very easy to preach and give advice. I know your pain from personal experiences and yes some words are comporting and yes some words are shallow or meaningless.
All I can say is remember the good parts and take solace in the fact that you actually got to say goodbye to a friend.
Bless you for having the heart to talk about this so others may relate to it.
 

SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
Thank you all for being so kind. B has been moved to hospice, my sister said it's very nice and they are taking good care of her. She's being kept comfortable and calm.

So now we just wait. I guess we all get our turns doing this sometimes.

Big sigh.
 

papasmerf

Senior Member
Joined Aug 9, 2010
Messages 33,654
I wish there were words that could say how much I wish I could hold your pain for you.
 

SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
Last night I didn't even try to sleep. I just sat here and waited for the phone to ring. Even so, there was a brief moment of surprise when it did.

It's funny how even when you expect someone to die, you never really expect them to die today.

B passed peacefully overnight. My sister and her daughter were there.

I picture her now young and healthy and strong, dancing with her husband and laughing with my mom. No more pain. No more worry, no fear. Just peace.

Finally, peace.

I'll miss her every day but could never wish her back.
 

oldguyzer

Reviewer
Joined Jun 19, 2011
Messages 15,082
I hope you manage to cope well with the loss. I've lost two very close friends in the last year, and know the feeling only too well.
 

SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
Thank you all...it's hit me again and again today, that overwhelming disbelief when you can't breathe and you sit because your knees are weak, when the heavy ache in your heart makes you dizzy, when you realize all the way down in your soul that this is real, she's really never coming back.

I really am never going to see her or talk to her again. She's really gone.

I'm going back out there next weekend, to help pack up her apartment. Sigh.
 

DILLIGAF

Reviewer
Joined Nov 22, 2016
Messages 1,221
My thoughts are with you SG
The feeling will never completely go, but the pain will lessen and you will find your thinking more of the better times. I have gone through this on multiple times but it never changes.
 

SillyGirl

Queen of Boots and Cupcakes
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Messages 7,250
Thank you all for being so kind...I'm a mess. For the last few years I called her every day, and to be honest there were days when that call felt like a chore...I would remind myself that the day would come when I couldn't call her, and I would miss her.

Now that day is here, so much sooner than I ever expected.

"Bye for now", she would say when we hung up. That's what I said when I left her in the hospital, trying to sound like it was a done deal when we both really knew better.

I heard this song on the way home tonight, and I don't think I will ever stop crying.

 

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