So you may have noticed that I’ve been uber quiet lately. What’s up with that you may wonder? I talk about everything, right? There’s some stuff going on with my sweet Anna that I need to talk about… but not today. I have even stepped back on some of my online responsibilities… real life sometimes has to take priority. This post is going to be about friendship. Something that typically I struggle with in real life but seem to have easily online. This last month has truly shown me who my real friends are… in both realms.
The reason why I’ve been absent and why I’m writing. Her name is Debbie Ellen Fena-Boone.
About a month ago, Debbie got diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer out of the blue after a weekend of fatigue and belly pain. She is one of my oldest friends, dating back nearly 17 years now. She was one of only two friends that came to see my after my knee surgery. (And in some cruel twist of fate, the other friend who visited me was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer just a week after Debbie. Renee begins chemo tomorrow and my thoughts and prayers are with her.) Debbie is one of those unconditional friends… the kind that no matter how much time passes, you pick up where you left off, talk about old times, and delve right back into life today. She’s an optimist, a fighter, a sweetheart. She lost her sister some years ago and it broke her heart. She just got her RN degree last year, I am so proud of her. Like most friendships, once spouses and children and daily life took center stage, communication came and went in spurts. She was with me the night I met my husband.
I have so many fun memories, but I’m saving those for myself for the moment.
She was fighting the liver cancer. I saw her on March 23rd. I gave her my special necklace… the one I got from Rae, another special needs mommy that came to a retreat I attended who made necklaces for all the mommies. Rae also wrote a poem to accompany those necklaces and when I visited with Debbie two weeks ago, I gave her my necklace and poem. This necklace has brought me a lot of comfort over the years. When Anna’s been put under general anesthesia or gone through hard times, I wore the necklace and felt the love and support from my other mommies. I felt that love and support might serve Debbie well.
Isn’t she pretty?
Jan, her partner, wrote us Monday and said that Debbie’s kidneys were shutting down. Debbie called me Tuesday morning from the hospital… she decided to go home with hospice and halt the fight, just one month after diagnosis. We both cried.
I went to see her tonight. She has already slipped into a semi-comatose state. Jan says it’s a matter of days now. I hugged her family, her friends. The Fena and Boone family are seriously the best huggers I’ve ever met. Everyone was so kind, so full of love.
I talked to her; I whispered in her ear; I told her I loved her; I thanked her for being my friend; I kissed her forehead and petted her; < just had to stop for 20 minutes>; I told her how when I walked into her home, I was hit in the heart with the love there… that her entire family had flown in from all over the country and the feeling of love was palpable; I crawled into bed next to her and cuddled her as much as I could; I told her that her life had such a big impact on me, my family, and so many others; I didn’t say goodbye, I told her I would see her soon.
I haven’t even been able to talk to my family about this yet. … Sigh… I can’t seem to finish writing this …
It’s just too fast. And Debbie’s mom and Jan are getting cheated. It’s not fair.
If you have a friend like this, an unconditional friend, take 10 minutes and stop by the drugstore. Buy them a mushy card and write them a love note and drop it in snail mail. You won’t regret it. Be a real friend, even when you are tired and stressed and distracted. Be there. It matters.
Updating to add that Debbie passed away at 2:53 a.m. this morning, Friday, April 8th, 2011. Aloha my beautiful friend. I will always love you.