Linda died a year ago today. From cancer. But I lost her before that.
Lin was a swim momma like me. I met her when our daughters both started swimming for their high school team. Ally, her daughter was fast becoming my daughter Meggie’s BFF. So naturally Lin and I became friends. As our girls became closer, so did we. I’m not sure how it happened but there came a time when there were really five of us mommas that were together. There was Lin, Kath, Beck, Sarah and me, Nae. We talked too much. Laughed too much. We drank way too much. Our kids looked at us like we were crazy, because we were.
I remember our girl’s senior trip. Linda, Sarah and I were going to take Meg and Ally on a cruise. We had a wonderful time and really bonded with each other and our daughters. It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. I laughed so hard at some of our antics. It was so fun to just be with my girlfriends and our daughters. One night we went to the Captain’s reception and got a little inebriated before dinner. We should have known not to drink martinis on an empty stomach. But hey it was only an hour reception, what harm would it do? By the time we got to dinner we were laughing hysterically at the stupidest things. Linda burped so loud she sounded like she brought up her lunch. Meg and Ally were so embarrassed I thought they were going to slide under the table. Our lovely bar waitress came over to get our drink order for dinner. Our daughters said we didn’t need a thing, which of course we didn’t. We needed food to soak up the martinis. The bar waitress then leaned over and whispered in my ear that there was another reception before the next dinner seating. We girls ate heartily and then headed back to the reception to drink more. I do believe we were the ship’s entertainment that night. Ha!
After the trip we were inseparable. We loved each other and our families. My baby, Adam and her baby, Claire then became boyfriend and girlfriend. It made us even closer. We talked all the time. Then came the falling out with Kathy and Linda. It put a rift between all of us. I stayed neutral. I was Switzerland. I’m one of those that tries to stay friends with everyone. I listened to both sides and really tried to stay objective. The subject of the argument doesn’t really matter. Suffice is to say it changed most everything….. We tried to stay friends but it was so difficult.
Then Linda got sick, and she withdrew from all of us but her immediate family. It was heartbreaking. I did my very best to love her and understand her. I did my best to support her children, husband, my BFFs, and myself. I still wanted her in my life… Not her mother, sisters, and the rest of them. Just her. It wouldn’t happen… I saw her one time just after she was diagnosed. I then told her point blank how I felt about her leaving her family, about leaving all of us. We had a huge falling out. I said what I said because I loved her, and I wanted her to come home. I wanted to take care of her. But it didn’t happen…
I did see her at her cancer benefit though. I was able tell her I loved her, and she told me she loved me. We forgave each other for the hurtful words we’d said. She was sure me up to date about treatment, but our relationship was never the same. The last time I saw her was a few hours before she died. My sweet Claire called me and told me to come. Her family was cordial to me, but I really didn’t care if they were. Her kids wanted me there, and that’s all that mattered. Our BFFs did too and that’s what mattered. I was Switzerland, remember? I was the objective one that had to put all the bad shit away, sit next to her bed, hold her hand and tell her that I loved her no matter what. That she was my BFF and I would miss her. I was sorry that I missed out on the rest of her life. I told her funny stories about our kids and what was going on in our lives. Told her how much I thought of David, her husband.
As I held her hand, tears streamed down my face. I could barely speak for the lump in my throat. I kept talking to her though. Kept crying. The funny thing was, not one of her family members comforted me. Her children, Ally and Clair did. No one else did though. They stood idly by and let me bawl. That was just more proof what kind of people they were. Cold. I laid my head next to hers and let me tears dampen her pillow. I listened to her labored breathing and knew it was only a matter of time before she expired.
I witnessed Ally and Claire turn into strong women that day. I saw them stand up for their mom and tell her family point blank what Linda wanted. Even as she lay dying. I saw a family losing a woman they love but coming together. I was honored to be there, yet so sad that Lin didn’t want me there before that. I will never understand why she left her kids and husband. I still love her though. When Spring rolls around and the winter weather begins to dissipate, I will always remember her. I was honored to know her. Love her. Be her friend.