I've never daylogged before. Maybe I never will again. But it's been a rough week or so, and I feel the need to write something about it, and set it all down in some semblance of order where someone will see it. On the other hand, I don't know how much I expect anyone else to care about this, but here it is (where it hopefully won't do any harm).
A very good friend died last week. Her name was Amy, and I've never met a stronger or more unique person in my whole life... I've never experienced anything like this up to now. Sure, people I've known in passing, or worked with, or been related to have died. Even people in our little "community" make some kind of impact when they go, but nothing like this - at least not for me. I don't know where to begin, so I guess the beginning will do.
Amy had been diagnosed about a month ago with multiple sclerosis. It was a complicated diagnosis, because she had already been having a lot of difficulty with what she (and her doctor) thought was the recurrence of a ten-year-old back injury she suffered in a car accident. It was enough to keep her from working full-time, and by the time the neurologist sent her in for an MRI she was already on disability.
She was hardly an invalid, however. She had some pain and a few other symptoms - and occasional bouts of partial paralysis from the waist down, which was probably what set off the light bulb over her neurologist's head. But when I saw her a few days prior, she was still walking around and being her normal, vibrant self.
Saturday night - June 22, 2002 I think - Amy called me at home. We talked for a while about this and that, and finally she asked me if I wanted to drive her to Circuit City to look for a big-screen TV. (She could have driven, but she wanted me along for company, and just in case she started to have trouble.) I had friends coming over in a couple of hours, but because I wanted to help however I could (and because I never could say no to Amy in any case) I agreed.
This was a big mistake, but one I'm very, very glad I made.
Suffice it to say that TV shopping took a little too long, and in the meantime my idiot friends showed up at my place before I was expecting them, and called me irritably on the cellphone. I, being my usual keyed-up self, got all pissed off at myself for trying to do too much in too little time, and I know I inadvertently took some of it out on Amy. But she bought her TV and I took her home, and I told her I was sorry for getting so stressed out. She told me she didn't take it personally, and that was that.
I talked to her again a day or two later, and I was glad to hear that she didn't seem to be angry at me from before. It was just another rambling phone conversation, like friends often have, but it was the last time I talked to her.
The rest of the week went on normally enough, until Thursday evening when I happened to be at my parents' house watching the local news, and I saw a story about a 33-year-old woman being reported as Maryland's first heat-related death of the season. Had I been a bit less paranoid I might have thought no more of it, but when I got home I checked a few online news sources, hoping to be reassured so that I could quiet the tiny nagging voice that was worrying me a little. As it turned out, the Web told me that it was a 33-year-old white woman from Aspen Hill, Maryland, who also suffered from multiple sclerosis. Five for five.
At this point I started to get seriously scared. It was almost midnight, far too late to call anyone. Since I had to run a few errands anyway, I went to the grocery store and in the meantime took a quick swing past Amy's house, figuring that at least if I saw it covered in police line do not cross tape I'd know for sure. It wasn't, of course, but her beloved Mercedes SLK was gone, replaced with another car I'd never seen before, and all the lights were out except for some electric candles in the windows. Which proved nothing, by itself, but it sure as hell didn't make me feel any better.
So, with the aid of some judicious self-medication, I finally got to bed, intending to find out first thing on Friday what was up, but grimly suspecting that my friend was probably really gone... unbelievable. The next morning I left a rather shaky message on her voicemail, and sent her an email link to the news story, hoping to have a good laugh about it with her over the weekend. But when I got to work, there was a forwarded email waiting for me from a mutual friend, informing me that Amy had passed away in the early hours on Tuesday. Tuesday! There was never any real elaboration on exactly how she died, but I didn't and don't want to think about that too much.
That evening I handled the situation as any red-blooded human being would: I drank myself into a motherfucking coma. Who wouldn't? I guess at that point my brain hadn't really assimilated the information, so some drunken carousing was all I really wanted.
The rest of the weekend I helped Amy's friends prepare for her funeral, which was the following Monday. I knew it would be difficult, but I wasn't prepared for just how hard reality hit me that day. Here I was at a slightly ghoulish spectacle which up until now I had associated with octogenarian grandparents and people I hadn't ever really known, but there at the entrance was a picture of this beautiful blonde woman, whom I had half-expected to attend my funeral someday. This was not a fragile person... I mean, all human beings are fragile, but never have I met someone with such sheer fortitude. I'm proud to say that I was able to draw on some of her strength: I helped carry her casket in and out of the church, and I even got up to say a few words about her (ordinarily an unthinkable task for someone as shy as me). But when I got home I was crying like a little girl.
There was a time when I had a severe crush on this woman, as big as any I'd had in high school. But fortunately, in the course of our being coworkers and even afterward, our relationship had evolved past that, to the point where I was proud and happy to consider her my friend, and nothing more. Even so, the towering uniqueness of her personality was such that I really and truly loved her. I never told her in so many words, perhaps because of all the baggage that went with it, but I think she understood. In fact, the last time I talked to her, I said that the only reason I had gotten myself into going shopping with her that Saturday night, even though I didn't really have time, was because I cared about her. I like to think she cared back.
As hard as all of this is and will continue to be, the thing that galls me the most is that I know there was a lot of mileage left on our friendship. She was a little bit older and a lot more mature than I am, and in what turned out to be the tiny sliver of time we had together, she taught me all sorts of valuable lessons about life and about myself, and I hope I'll never forget those things, or the beautiful human being who taught me. Here it is, four days after "closure" and it still hurts like a bitch.
I'm rambling like a moron. I apologize to anyone still reading this. I just needed to assure myself that none of this will ever be lost forever, or something like that. I don't know.
I miss you, damn you for being so damn amazing.