Early in the morning on Thursday April 19, 2018 my beautiful best friend, Karen, lost her five year battle with Peritoneal Cancer, a rare aggressive Gynecological Cancer.
Karen was diagnosed five years ago after having severe bloating and stomach pain for three months. Her first surgery was supposed to be a complete hysterectomy. However, when they went in, they found tumor wrapped around her Colon. They removed 18 inches of her Colon, her Gallbladder and her Appendix in that surgery and advised the odds of her making it were slim. She made it.
One month later Karen had complete and total hysterectomy followed by aggressive Chemo. She lost her hair and a lot of weight. Again, they advised she probably would not make it. She made it.
They gave her 18 months to live and ensure there was understanding that Peritoneal Cancer never goes into remission. Karen had a six month break from Chemo but more or less received Chemo for the last five years. She was given 18 months to live and lived five years. She had me and all that loved her convinced she would beat it. She did not.
On Saturday April 7th, Karen reached out to me to say goodbye. She told me it was almost time. I asked to be with her and hold her hand. She told me she knew I lost my sister to a terminal illness in the same fashion and didn’t want me to do another death bed vigil. She also told me she wanted me to remember her strong. We said our goodbyes over the course of three hours. Every day from April 7th to April 19th I sent Karen a message in the morning that said that I loved her and I was lucky to have been her friend. I was told by her family she treasure each messaged but it would have been too hard for her if I was there and saw her that way. She wanted me to be remember her strong.
She was the best friend I ever had. I am not sure what life looks like without her. If you are the praying type, I ask you pray the healing of my mind, body and spirit because I feel very broken and lost. I also have my own health issues going on and had 10 tubes of blood drawn this morning.
My good news from yesterday was… I got the call about Karen only hours before I was giving the most important presentation of my entire career to two Directors and two Group Managers who will determine the future of my career. My boss was standing next to me when i got the call about Karen. I never told him my best friend was dying. He was in shock when I told him this was going on the whole time I worked for him. He asked if I wanted to reschedule the presentation because my Directors would understand the situation. I told him my Directors would understand but Karen was a hardass and would not understand. She would expect me to honor her by crushing it. I hung a Post-it note on my laptop that said, “Crush it for Karen” and off I went to do my presentation. I was very relaxed. I smiled and spoke authentically. At the end, one Director (a female Director I never met in person before)said, “I am very very impressed” and the other Director(a man who works in DC I’ve met and bonded with) said, “I am pleased as punch!”. My direct supervisory followed me out of the room and said, “GREAT Job. Now go take care of yourself. I’ll see you in a week!”. I thank Karen for the inspiration. I crushed it for Karen! I left the office immediately after that meeting was over. I am officially on Leave from work until April 30th.
I spent yesterday afternoon with with Karen’s sister and her long time boyfriend and caretaker. I spent yesterday evening with a couple of friends and spent last night making phone calls to tell folks I loved them. I went to Karen’s Mom’s house this morning and then focused on caring for myself this afternoon. Now, late on Friday afternoon I am starting to allow myself to feel again. I was strong for two days. It is time for good cry again.
Karen’s services should be Tuesday with her obit in the Sunday paper. Her sister was meeting with the Rabbi today.
Karen was a Country Music lover. She once said to me, “everyone needs some country in their life Linda Long!” She took me to two Country music concerts, Kenny Chesney and Darius Rucker. In memory of my beautiful best friend, Karen Grant, I am sharing “Broken Halos” and “Somewhere With You”. I needed Country in my life today.
(C) 2018 Linda A. Long – All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: https://www.elvenstarart.com