I prepared to die this year.
And my best friend was no where to be found. It’s something I haven’t really had time to grieve. Until today, I guess, when the memories, disappointments, fears, and angers came rushing toward me all at once.
Of course, the chances that I would die were slim. But that didn’t stop me from carefully thinking through how to organize my life, my belongings, and prepare list after list for those I’d leave behind.
I did all of this as calmly and as quietly as possible. When Jimmy wasn’t around, I made sure to stack clothes in the appropriate piles: one for women’s shelters, another for friends, and more for ranger caches and goodwill; it wasn’t obvious nor, were they in labeled containers. But, if you had a list after my death, you’d know what to do.
Then there were the small containers under the bed I prepared for my sister so she could have the last of daddy’s things. Another list was prepared for my books and my gear.
It may have been cryptic, but it felt necessary given that my soon-to-be-husband wouldn’t have a clue how to deal with the more pressing tasks let alone this.
It felt like it needed to be hidden. I didn’t need or want to scare anyone. My death was highly unlikely. But I couldn’t risk the additional pain my loved ones would feel having to decide what to do with meaningless items.
Most days, I coped just fine. One list here or there. One item at a time. It wasn’t too much. But, there were times I did need a confidant.
At first, my best friend’s chill attitude was refreshing. It made the tasks less scary. It made everything feel like it was spring cleaning or moving, and not my impending mortality.
But as time progressed and I chose to eliminate things from my diet so I’d be less likely to die on the table from thin blood, she seemed to remember less and less what I was about to do. Her carelessness in asking if I’d like to go to drinks the night before surgery really stumped me.
Could someone so close to me really care this little? Had she even heard all the times I talked about my preparations?
But, in the interest of self-preservation, I ignored it. All of it. More than I dare to mention. This body, these organs, that kidney didn’t need a single extra ounce of stress.
So, I ignored. As best I could anyway. But, as the days drew nearer and the carelessness grew, I couldn’t take it anymore. An out-lash of emotions drew me to cut ties and I uninvited her to the surgery waiting room – something I most desperately wanted since my husband’s family couldn’t be there to support him.
And then she just said it. “It’s not a big deal. You’re probably not going to die.”
These were the first words to which I woke remembering after surgery.
Instead of looking for my loving husband, instead of asking doctors if it went okay, I just cried and heaved and cried and said, “I’m so mad at her.”
Being told I probably wasn’t going to die is high up on the list of most hurtful things ever said. And, while, she was right that I probably wouldn’t die, it was a big deal. It was a big fucking deal.
I’m recovered now. The lists have been tossed. The piles disheveled. But those haunting words still linger each time my incision sites feel sore and I remember she was never around for any of it.
I entered survival mode when I got the call there was a kidney match. I did everything I had to in order to be mentally prepared and calm. Then, my focus was entirely on my recovery and regaining my life with each new day of strength.
Today, though, my brain has finally had a chance to stop and mourn the loss of that best friend.
Cheers to the good times and here’s to working on letting you go.