I learned a hard lesson this week. It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are to lose a friend, you can never be 100% ready. Even when you have prayed that God would take them home so they no longer have to suffer, selfishly you don’t want to let them go.
I met Kristy my second day of chemotherapy. I will never forget that day. I walked into the chemo room, still unfamiliar with the process of how things go, and there she sat. She had the cutest scarf on her head and the prettiest smile. She immediately introduced herself and started asking questions about what brought me to the chemo room that day. In the 2-3 hours I spent there that day, I knew that we had a connection. Little did I know, that we would become great friends.
I had just had my hair cut that week into a short little bob. When I told her that I originally had long hair, she shared with me that she did too. We showed each other pictures and she explained to me the ins and outs of the chemotherapy process. She told me that once I started losing my hair, it was easiest to just shave it off. She told me where I could find the cutest scarves and wigs and she even showed me all the fun ways you can tie a scarf. She was a God-send.
After that first session, we began reserving seats for each other at every other chemo session. It made chemo soooo much easier to have her smiling face sitting next to me and to look forward to enjoyable conversation…even if I may not have remembered it later! 🙂 Her mom would bring snacks and I would bring magazines and stuff for us to do! Kristy was finished with chemo before I was, but had to do radiation every day so on my chemo days, she would still come up there and sit with me! Talk about selfless love! She also sent me text messages with scriptures in them almost every day of my chemo sessions.
We both finished our treatment at the beginning of July that year. But our friendship didn’t end there. She called me in August to tell me that her breast cancer had moved from her breasts to her lungs. I remember feeling so helpless. All I could think about was my last visit with Dr. Armor. He told me “Heaven forbid your cancer is to return, it is curable a second time around with the exact same treatment. Unlike breast cancer in which, once it moves, it is not curable.” Even though I knew the statistics were not good, I knew she was a fighter and would give it everything she had. And I also knew that our God could perform miracles, if only we believed.
Fight would be an understatement, when describing all that Kristy did to try to beat this awful disease. She immediately took charge of her own health. She went to MD Anderson and was involved in several trials there. From there she went to Colorado and met a new doctor whom she loved and was involved in several treatments there. She then even talked about going to Florida at one point. At the beginning of this year, she moved to Tulsa and was under the care of Cancer Treatment Centers of America. This girl gave it all she had. She was dedicated in trying to get better. She was the bravest person I know, going to several of her treatment sessions in other states by herself. But she knew she wasn’t alone, she had faith like none other. God was with her every step of the way.
During all of these treatments, Kristy continued to work. She lived in Oklahoma City and worked for the apartment complex in which I live. Her family lives in a suburb of Tulsa. While I would have needed someone to care for me during this time, Kristy decided to care for herself in attempts to protect her family from how bad her health was getting. Once she moved to Tulsa, she lived with her younger sister but would still come visit her friends in Oklahoma City when she felt up to it. She would come stay with me and we would go to dinner or order carry out. I loved our time together. Even though it seemed few and far between these last few months, it didn’t take long for us to catch up and know exactly what was going on in each other’s lives.
I would text her about once a week to check in on her. It was the week after the 4th of July when I texted her last. She told me that she had been in the hospital due to having fluid on her lungs and around her heart. I asked if I could come visit the following weekend and she said that would be fine, but she was probably going to get to go home. I texted her both days that weekend and didn’t get a response. However, I didn’t think much of it because if she isn’t feeling good, she doesn’t respond right away. That week I still hadn’t heard from her. I decided that I would call the hospital and ask for her room just to see if she was still there. Unfortunately, she was. Her sister answered and said that she would get my number out of her phone and text me to update me about what was going on.
It wasn’t good news. Kristy’s kidneys had started to fail due to all the chemo and radiation she had received and dialysis was not an option because unfortunately, her blood no longer was able to make platelets. 😦 They had decided to put her on hospice, as it was really their only option at this point. She told me that they had shared this information with Kristy but since then, her brain had swollen and she didn’t remember. She thought she was getting better and was going home soon.
This information hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel like I have a good, solid relationship with God but that night is not one that I am proud of. I was angry. I began asking Him, “Why did you even allow me to meet her, if you knew you were going to take her from me? Why did you heal me, but not her? Why would you allow her to die at such a young age when she still had so much left to do in this life? Why haven’t you answered my many prayers to heal her?” I was confused. I felt lost and alone. And my emotions could not have been more selfish. I wasn’t ready to lose her.
I asked her sister if I could come visit the following weekend, and she said that was fine, but that she was declining rapidly and she may not make it until then. My mom and I went to see her the next day. When we walked in the room, I thought I was going to lose it. She almost seemed unrecognizable. However, it didn’t take long for us to jump into one of our familiar conversations. I sat next to her the whole time, holding her hand and just taking in every minute I had with her. We talked about all of the memories we had made together and just laughed. After about an hour, we decided to let her get some rest. I didn’t want to leave. I could have sat there next to her the whole night. I made plans to go back that weekend.
That Saturday, one of her sisters told me that she had been mostly sleeping the past couple days and I might not want to come that day. Sunday, the other sister texted me to tell me that she was no longer opening her eyes or communicating. 😦 She lived like this for a week before she lost her battle this past Sunday evening, July 27th. I believe that she fought it to the very end. She loved life and wasn’t going to give up easy, even though she knew where she was going when she died.
I had a patient share with me a couple weeks ago that her daughter had passed away in a car accident right after she graduated from high school, 17 years ago. She told me that she asked God “why” for so long. I said to her “well someday you can ask him face to face.” She shared with me something that I will never forget. She said “I think that when I get to heaven, I won’t care about the “why’s” anymore, I will just be so happy to see her.” Little did I know that I would need that advice in the weeks to come.
Kristy, I will never forget your beautiful smile, your outgoing personality, and your love of life and people. You were the most caring, selfless person I have ever met and I will strive each day to follow in your footsteps. You taught me so much in the two short years we knew each other. You weren’t scared of anything. I am blessed to have known you. Although I may not ever know why God took you so soon, I know that you are smiling down on all of us with your beautiful long blonde hair right now. I love you girlfriend and can’t wait until the day I see you again…