My dear friend, Cathy, passed away from breast cancer a year ago this month. I spent the last eight months of her life helping her die. It was the most painful, glorious experience of my life. I only met Cathy 11 months before she passed. We were long lost sisters, we decided. We had so very much in common and could talk for hours about nothing -- or about... everything.
Her husband was a piece of work. He was the typical charismatic alcoholic. Everyone thought he was the greatest guy on earth, until he got behind closed doors. I came to learn over the later part of Cathy's life that he was both emotionally and physically abusive, too. He tired of caring for her, of the chemo and doctor appointments, of the housekeeping and cooking.
So, Cathy and I became best friends. I don't know how I made it thru it all, with my fibro, CFS, depression, and anxiety. But, God new where I was needed. He made it possible. He made it possible for me to sit with her for hours during chemo, spend the night on a narrow bench at the hospital, rub her back so she could relax and get some much needed sleep. Somehow He made it possible for me to comfort her when she was afraid of dying, speak of what my idea of heaven was -- when I was scared, too and had no idea if there truly was a heaven.
But, Cathy gave more to me than I could even think to give her. She was there for me, thru her pain, when I was hurting so about my crummy little life. She held me up when no one else was there, she worried about me and protected me. She stayed with me as I watched all my other "friends" walk away. She loved me. Unconditionally, faults and neuroses and all.
I miss Cathy so much. It hurts that we had so little time together. Cathy loved butterflies. At the hospice the doors of her room opened out into this lovely courtyard. A day or two before she left, a beautiful butterfly visited her on a day they were able to roll her bed outside. Cathy had tattoos of butterflies on each shoulder and on each ankle. My son-in-law happens to be a tattoo artist. I got it into my head that I was going to get a tattoo of a butterfly on my ankle for Cathy. They were here to visit last week and I finally got my tattoo. It hurt like hell!! Somehow, I think Cathy got quite a kick out of the whole thing. Not about the pain, about my stupid tenacity to go thru with it!
I saw a beautiful yellow and orange butterfly yesterday. I have no doubt it was Cathy come to say "Way to go." God, I miss her.