I started this entry the other day. Then I deleted it all. Then I started it again in my head. Then I decided against it. Now...I just talked to The Great and Wonderful Cowtown Stacy. So I suppose I do need to write about this.
Summer 2004 is a period of time between June 11 and August 31. Not your normal time frame for summer, but it is what will be considered summer for me for many summers to come.
On June 11 my friend Donna told me (and Stacy and others) she had terminal pancreatic cancer. "And it looks like it won't be long", she said. It was late evening and I was supposed to be packing to go away for a long weekend with my family. I walked into our bedroom and Norm looked at me and said (in a slightly panicky voice) "What's WRONG??" and I burst into tears and choked out Donna's news. She was right. She died the morning of August 31, 2004.
The flurry of emails that ensued after that June 11 email was only the beginning of a summer that will mark both an end and a beginning. And it pains me that it was Donna's dying and death that marked that beginning.
You see.... I never met Donna face to face. Stacy and Sherilyn drove from Texas to Winnipeg and back again in four days to visit Donna in the hospital. I will always regret not going with them. But it was the only time we made a real effort to meet each other. We discovered in the worst way, how wrong that was. And so.... we do make the effort now.
You see.....these women......they are my best friends in every sense of that word. I speak with them EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not a day has gone by since June 11, 2004 that I have not spoken with at LEAST one of them. I bought a laptop computer so I could remain in contact with them and it is some of the best money I've ever spent. We are East. We are West. We are North. We are South (bless their hearts). None of us live down the street from another. Some of us live within a 30 minute drive. But most of us need an airplane to meet for coffee.
That was a horrible summer and it was a wonderful summer. We had some horrible things happen (Donna's death being the greatest, but there were others) during that summer. But there was a point in August that we knew that we would be so much better in a year. We knew we would be closer than ever, in a year. We knew we would still miss Donna. We are stronger than we thought we were. We are more capable than we thought we were. We are each other's strength. A year previous we didn't know that. Now...we do. I think we all walk a little taller now.
I hope Donna is resting in peace. I hope she looks down on us and smiles when she watches us. I wish she was here to be part of it all.
I wish for you, my reader, friendships like this. For far too long we knew each other only through the words typed into a computer. Now...... we try to get together whenever possible, we rely on free long distance from our cell phone companies to allow us to just call anytime, even just to ask a question about a recipe or how to send a music file. And we "talk" every single day. We can debate the great issues that face our nation and world, we could seek parental advice from those who have been there done that. We can share great ideas for quick lunches or a knitting pattern that is too easy not to do. Or we can just talk about a lot of nothing. But I know that if I need advice or an ear, a shoulder or an atta girl.... these are my people.
I am blessed. And I will always remember Donna when I think of these women. And I will always be sad that she was not here to know us as "us". For she was the best of us.....