Love Hurts ( losing a friend to cancer)

Romantic at Heart

I am a romantic at heart so my poet friends tell me. I never really thought about it before. Something I do know about myself is that I pour my life into lives that are suffering, hurting. I’m a nurse so I guess it helps to have a big heart – sometimes. After a heart wrenching situation with a friend, I was reminded  that Love Hurts!

A Memory

I was taken back in time, not centuries, just a few years back. Went back to a time when I was on the “top of my game.” I was in hospital admin.  My job  was  training the hospital staff- something I love to do.  I was also required to assess the staff’s progress. I spent a lot of time on one unit because it was right next to my office. One of the patients on the unit was a gal who from outward appearances seemed hard and unapproachable. As the weeks went on and we talked, Ellie became a friend.

Same People Same Places

Ellie was a little older than me but with cancer induced dementia Ellie was living in another world. Luckily the world her dementia chose was  Ellie’s late teens. In her mind, she visited places where she snuck out at night to meet a boy or have a smoke. What we discovered was that we had grown up within a five-minute drive of each other. We had known some of the same people and hung out at the same places.

Watching Decay

Ellie and I grew close because I could go back to the world where she now spent most of her time. We laughed about our antics as teens. She was there again trying to defy her parents and I was hoping her treatments would defy the odds. Ellie would visit my office after going to the courtyard for a smoke. I hated watching her decay. I hated hearing the gasping coughs after a chain smoking binge.  Ellie had rebelled and become a smoker as a teen, she was not going to give up her smoking now.

I laughed ..She coughed

I went visiting family during the holidays- drove by her house and the park and the mall. I wanted to be reminded of where she was and where we could visit together. She told me a story of  nuns skinny dipping in her pool (you didn’t hear that from me). I reminded her of the puke green fence surrounding the yard,  of shopping at the mall, and we re-lived football games. I laughed ~ she coughed. I held her as she writhed in pain; My desk blotted out my tears.

Smiles laced with sorrow

The last days I would take a flower and a smile to my heavily drugged friend. I would carry peace in to room 416; I would carry sorrow out. The tug on my heart grew more profound as the day grew near. My staff watched my pain and feared. Then it happened; I was off that day. My teen friend left me what more could I say. I cried each time I passed 416~ expected to see smoke tendrils in the courtyard. No more.

My family asked me – was it worth it? Was it worth loving her? I assured myself – “it was  worth every moment!” I am hoping she is free now seeking out the skinny dipping nuns,basking in the sun on the other side of Eternity – waiting for me.

You would think I would have learned…

Today a friend left in another way – didn’t die just moved on.  What more is there to say – I keep giving my heart and am reminded that love hurts.

Thank you Rich Anderson for the photograph