It's been difficult to know where to start with this.
A few weeks ago, one of my best and dearest friends died rather suddenly. It's difficult for me to convey how much her friendship meant to me. When I left California, I had a group of roughly five people who I kept in touch with regularly, and with whom I made a priority to visit when I went back last summer. She was in that group.
I'll take an excerpt from a recent Facebook post I made:
"She was a tomboy in all the ways I was, and “girly” in all the ways I wasn’t. Together we sang karaoke (me poorly, her beautifully), went wine tasting in Napa (her poorly, me beautifully), and shared a spa day mud bath with a hot-tub afterward. She taught me that indulgence and self-care are never bound by traditional gender roles."
We met while working at EA together. She was the office manager, in charge of herding cats and keeping the place in line. She had a no-nonsense sass and easy sense of humor about her. We hit it off right away. During a summer convention we dressed up together; her in the Daenerys Khaleesi outfit with a fabulous white-blonde wig, and me in my dragon outfit. We were quite the pair.
Even after she moved on to a different job, we hung out fairly regularly. Sometimes going out to Karaoke, where she put forth her southern vocal skills and captured everyone in the room. You see, she also sang in a band. Well, multiple bands, and she had an INCREDIBLY powerful voice. She made it look so easy as she lazily held the mic up to her lips, then let it drop with seeming disinterest during rests. I was fortunate enough to see her perform live multiple times around the greater Sacramento area. After one such performance in Folsom she called me her favorite groupie.
We would always joke that we were each other's wine-drinking buddies, even though we did much more than that. Okay, maybe not much more than that. Some days I'd just drop by her place with a cheap bottle of chuck wine, an expensive sampling of cheese, and we'd watch stupid movies for hours. She introduced me to Cabin in the Woods - and she probably doesn't know this, but afterwards, I always saw it as "our" movie. When we were taking a break back at the room in Napa, we relaxed naked in the hot tub with a bottle and turned the tv on. Cabin in the Woods had JUST started.
She was a master of southern cooking. Two things I've always done poorly were gravy and hollandaise sauce. Three or four times she had me come over to show me how, but when replicating at home something would always go wrong. When seeing comments from other people on Facebook after her death, I was flooded with emotion by how many mentioned her exquisite cooking. Someone even posted a grits recipe she had given them. She loved to share her cooking with her friends, and we were blessed to sample it. No one ever left her home hungry.
She developed a love for those silly inflatable T-rex costumes. She used to flood her facebook page with people doing all kinds of things in them until finally, she purchased her own. A few of her friends (myself included) have resolved to trade off on this costume, ala "sisterhood of the traveling pants" and continue her silly adventures. I'm already looking forward to when its my turn.
I knew she had kidney problems from the start. When we met she was on the donor list for a transplant. After a few years of waiting, she started living on borrowed time. It never stopped her from pursuing her doctorate in religious studies. After finishing her undergrad in Sac State, she moved down to Berkeley for her masters. By then she had gotten a new kidney (or two?) and was doing really well. A few months ago she went in for some sort of treatment and had to stay a few days but after that, it looked like she had fully recovered. She earned her masters, but never finished her doctorate.
It was a few days before anyone noticed. I'm still processing my anger over that. I'm not sure what I'm angry about, or at who. She didn't show up for a treatment one day, so the doctor called her emergency contact, who then sent the police to her apartment.
I don't understand.
She had friends nearby. She had roommates.
All I can think of is how she died alone. Did she collapse suddenly? Did she have pain? Did she try to cry for help? I try to believe she passed quietly in her sleep, but my brain won't let me. It keeps conjuring horribleness and rage. The helplessness of being on the complete other side of the country, unable to do anything. What could I have done anyway? I don't think I'm feeling guilt - just anger. Anger that someone closer didn't "do" something. That they didn't notice sooner.
Her funeral is in a week or so. I'm so broke right now that its hard to justify the $500 last-minute round trip, plus any other expenses. I feel like a shameful hypocrite for having recently visited Philidelphia to spend time with my partner there. I spent another $30 on books... that could have gone to my credit card or toward a plane ticket. The money on meals and booze. Its easier to nickel and dime myself to death than spend a larger sum. But I'm going to go anyway. I'll figure it out.
Barely one month before she died, she'd gotten her first tattoo. It read in Latin: “Nihilominus Perseveravit” - Nevertheless, she persisted. It feels bittersweet to think of, now.
Go now don't look back we've drawn the line
Move on it's no good to go back in time
I'll never find another girl like you, for happy endings it takes two
We're fire and ice, the dream won't come true
Sarah, Sarah, storms are brewin' in your eyes
Sarah, Sarah, no time is a good time for goodbyes