It has been a chaotic rush of things since I last posted here in December. Sometimes it feels like standing still and everything is passing by. Working, wedding planning, trying to get “Edge of Glory” written and somewhere in it all, became distant from old friends who were lost in a chaos of their own. Different roads, separate lives dividing up in the dark.
But getting lost in that rush changed for me back in December with one phone call. It was my best friend of 15 years calling to inform me an old friend of our from high school died of cancer only six months after her younger sister was taken by the same heartless disease. In a strange numbness and not knowing how to feel, I posted the following on Facebook:
“Do yourself a favour. Today. Not tomorrow. If you have a friend you know off the internet and in real life, and you haven’t talked to them in three or more years, call them. Today. Not tomorrow.
Because before you know, it has been ten years of unfulfilled coffee dates and passing conversations during chance encounters, and then you get the unexpected news that they are dead.
I got that news last night. A girl I went to high school with. An old friend stolen by cancer. I knew she went for surgery to remove a tumour last month. I didn’t know she was so close to the end. The last full, in person conversation we had was about ten years ago. Since then it has been chance encounters, short Facebook chats. Talk of getting together but we never did.
Call that old friend. Today. Not tomorrow. You don’t know if they have a tomorrow.”
It felt weird to hear the news because as I absorbed it, I was left somewhat hollow in that I didn’t know how to feel. At least three years had gone by since I last saw her in person and we had only chatted briefly on Facebook.
She died of cancer only days after her 26th birthday. I knew she went for surgery back in November to have a tumour removed, but it is painstaking to admit I did not know she was so close to the end. I didn’t know she was sick until she announced the surgery on Facebook. It was one of those statuses I saw, acknowledged, silently hoped it would go well for her, and scrolled back into my life.
I treated it like another name on the screen, as many of us end up doing in this age of online friends and relationships.
But this was a girl we met in the high school foyer every morning before the first bell. She laughed with us the December day our friend Travis (who died Dec. 26/02) walked in with lights strung around him and plugged them in, standing there just shining in his humour and ability to make everyone around him laugh.
I knew her family back then. Her family lost two daughters in six months to cancer. I cannot imagine that kind of devastation.
I’ve known a lot of deaths in my life, from my dad to all four grandparents, a baby nephew and friends.
“This is a crisis of a different kind,” as my best friend put it.
Over coffee we contemplated how much of a right we have to feel this loss, given how we absent-mindedly let so much time pass by. She was always one of those people I meant to connect with again. Instead, life’s whirlwind found me in the middle of working, wedding planning, writing and renovating.
Sometimes you spend so much effort in certain areas that others get neglected. Like that list of old friends you don’t talk to often; the ones you keep thinking “I’ll message/call them soon. Maybe tomorrow.”
But maybe there is no tomorrow. Maybe they won’t be there when you finally give them the time of day. Maybe you won’t wake up to give that list another passing glance.
I look at that list every time I log onto Facebook. But often do the names get acknowledged? How many “maybe we should do coffee this week” suggestions have gone unfulfilled?
And she has become another tomorrow that isn’t there.
My best friend and I came to the realization of how little we knew the 26-year old woman she had become, instead of the immature teenagers we were. All of the arguments, the petty fights, the normal high school drama; how much of that is carried with us that causes us to grow apart as we grow up?
With Travis’s death came the separating of friendships, the unravelling, if you will. My best friend is the only from school I still talk to. How can certain friendships stay with us and others get left to dangle in the wind, unfinished?
I finally picked up the phone and called other friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Whether the coffee dates were just a quick catch-up or not, it was great to just slow down. It struck me that my social life had taken a hard hit in me being busy. And I realized how much I hated that.
Being busy is over glorified. Stop. Find that list. Get back to the people who matter to you. Do it now.
There might not be a tomorrow.