UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
The morning that Laurie died, I dreamed this dream:
My husband Robert and I entered what at first seemed to be a food court. Once Robert had identified the burger joint, his favorite food, he scurried there to order his meal. That left me walking the row of restaurants, pondering all my choices. I stopped to peruse the menu at an Asian restaurant. Noisy customers from the sushi bar further down the row momentarily diverted my attention. As I returned to the menu above the take-out counter before me, I noticed for the first time that we were actually on an enclosed pier. The pier pilings rose through the floor planks that formed the walkway, framing each establishment and rising to create the structure on which the roof above me rested.
While pondering my choices, I gazed up at the row of windows above the eateries that went the length of the pier, from the land to the sea. I first saw the blue sky and a seagull, then the ominous presence of a huge tidal wave coming straight towards me. Absolutely terrified, I grabbed the piling to my left and clung to it with all my strength, hoping against hope that I could save myself from the oncoming disaster.
The tidal wave struck. Green seawater, filled with seaweed and fish, broke the windows and water started pouring into the food court. I held onto the pier piling for dear life. But to my surprise, the water didn’t sweep me away. Yes, there was water a few inches deep all along the food court, but somehow the wave didn’t destroy the pier.
I turned around and looked out a row of picture windows behind me. I could see the wave pass, traveling parallel to the shore. Then a tug boat caught my eye at the end of the pier. It was trapped in the force of the wave, being pulled along behind it. Debris from several other ships surrounded it, but the tug boat was whole, intact, and didn’t appear to have any damage at all.
That’s when I saw her. There, next to the smokestack, stood a woman with long light brown hair dressed in a bright yellow dress with large white polka dots. She looked straight ahead in the direction that the tidal wave was taking her, the strong sea breeze blowing her hair behind her. The sun shown brightly upon her, kissing her skin. There was no hint of fear or panic on her face. She held on to the deck railing as if she was on a pleasure cruise and not caught in the aftermath of a tsunami.
I watched in amazement as she passed by, my mind filling with questions. Who was she? How did she wind up on that boat? Was there anyone around who could rescue her? Why wasn’t she afraid? Where was she going?
I struggled to keep watching her as she and the tug boat quickly faded away into the distance. Just as she disappeared across the horizon, I woke up.
Now awake I wonder….was my dream a glipse of Laurie moving on to her next adventure?
Did you know that the day Laurie died, a rare quadruple rainbow appeared in New York? Was that Laurie telling us she was OK?Because I know that Laurie believed in these kinds of signs. (http://myfox8.com/2015/04/21/must-see-new-york-commuter-shares-photo-of-rare-quadruple-rainbow/)
I was the bearer of such a sign Christmas 2013, when I offered to bake and send her some homemade fruitcake. Fruitcake reminds me of my grandmother, who I lost when I was 16. Fruitcake reminded Laurie of her Dad, who she lost in 2002. She believed that me sending her fruitcake was a sign from her Dad. Me, I smiled and enjoyed the fact that we had one more thing in common.
That fruitcake inspire Laurie to write her post “Whoever Said “Facebook Friends Aren’t Real” Is One Big, Stupid Idiot.” (https://hibernationnow.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/whoever-said-facebook-friends-arent-real-is-one-big-stupid-idiot/) She gave me the nickname Sarita in that post…how did she know I always wanted a nickname?!?
It’s hard to believe that Laurie is really gone.
Chronic illness is a cruel mistress, often demanding all our time and energy. Social media, like our blogs, Facebook and Twitter, make connecting with each other easier. As sick chicks, it wasn’t uncommon to have periods of time when we were silent. But even if one, or both of us, wasn’t up to conversing, we could always visit each others blogs, Facebook timelines or Twitter feeds to catch up.
How I desperately want to believe that this is just one of those lulls in our conversation.
Laurie was right you know. Being chronically ill feels like being in a state of constant hibernation. To cope with our symptoms, our limitiations and our challenges, we make our worlds smaller, more manageable. We feather nests, snuggle into burrows, build forts with soft, warm blankets and big, fluffy pillows. We decorate our caves with music, words, soft lights and pleasant images to distract ourselves from the pain and fatigue that is constantly nipping at our heels, like the icy winter wind. From these small, warm, safe spaces we live life with chronic illness as best we can, reaching out to each other when we can, making the best damn lemonade we can out of the mountains of lemons someone keeps dumping right outside our doors.
My sadness at Laurie’s passing is tempered a bit by the truth that her suffering has ended. And the moment after I think this thought I get angry, beause everyone living with chronic pain and chronic fatigue deserves relief while they are living. I’m upset that while she was here with us she never got the relief she deserved. I’m frustrated that medicine didn’t have the cure or palliative care that she needed.
She is gone. And I will never forget my friend Laurie.
In her memory, I will donate to the Dysautonomia Information Network (http://www.dinet.org/index.php/help-us/donate) which helps people like Laurie living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). I will also recommit myself to my blogging and advocacy endeavors on behalf of people living with chronic illness, to help empower patients, like Laurie and myself, to ask for and settle for nothing less than the comprehensive care they need to not merely survive but to thrive with ongoing health challenges.
I send my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Laurie’s family. Despite her health challenges, I know that Laurie was the best mother and partner that she could be. You will always be in my thoughts. I hope you find comfort reading these words – “Love Does Not Die.” – as I did when I read this post on Laurie’s blog: “The Prayer” (https://hibernationnow.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/the-prayer-2/)