It's hard to believe that it has been one year today that I lost my wonderful friend, Judy. It's been a terribly lonely year without her, but I talk to her often or yell at her often, and wherever she is I know she is laughing. I worked with her for 5 years and we loved to banter back and forth with each other - it made anyone near us squirm as they really thought we were fighting, but after they would leave, we would just burst out laughing. We could say anything and everything to each other and there was never any offense taken. That is what she loved about me and that is what I loved most about her. To put it quite simply - she was my rock and my life just is not the same without her.
She was there for me in the happy, sad, confused, mad, frantic times - and she would just listen to me for hours on end, never judging me - just letting me ramble on and on and trying to work whatever it was out for myself but using her for a sounding board. I feel so honored to have had her friendship for as long as I did, never thinking for a moment that I would lose her. She had cancer for all of the years that I knew her, but she chose not to tell anyone. As she later explained it to me: she knew her decision of putting off her treatment would shorten her life span, but she wanted quality of life on this side of chemo, as she knew that once it started - life as her and her family knew it would never be the same.
Her husband and one of her sons were the only ones that knew she had cancer - she told me and her children & grandchildren, a month before she started treatment. Her and her husband were celebrating their 50th anniversary and they took the whole family on a cruise, she wanted them to have a wonderful time and she knew that if she told them at that point everyone would be so sad, she was always looking out for others especially her kids and grandkids. When she told me, I yelled and screamed in disbelief, I was angry at her that she would compromise her life like that, but she very calmly told me that she wanted quality not quantity and even though I didn't agree with her, I had to respect her wishes.
I have so many wonderful memories of her, but these two stick out in my mind the most. When my dad was killed almost exactly 3 years ago, we had his memorial in Northern California where my family lives. We live in Southern California, and she flew up for the day to come to my dad's memorial even though she didn't know my dad - she wanted to be there for me and I treasure that memory, especially once I found out how sick she really was.
My other memory was the week she started her treatment. She was hospitalized as they were giving her mega doses and wanted to monitor her, in case there were problems ( and there were nothing but problems from day one of her treatment.) I was on vacation with my two girlfriends and our daughters, we had just flown to Chicago on the red eye and it happened to be my 50th birthday. My cell phone rang and it was Judy's husband Harvey. He told me that he had been instructed by Judy to call me and sing Happy Birthday to me...she was too weak to do it herself. Well, that just made my heart soar and I think is the best gift that I have ever been given!
Six months later, she was gone - and we, all her loved ones have a big hole in our heart. I have gained a wonderful friend through all of this - her husband, Harvey. He has had a very hard time, as Judy was his life - he lived and breathed for her and to this day is devastated, but slowly moving on with his life. We get together for lunch every month or so and chat on the phone and one day at lunch he looked at me and he said, " Judy would be so happy to know what good friends we have become" And I couldn't help but smile. We miss and love you, Judy!