Strawberries and Peanut Butter

One of my best friends in life passed away when she was just 26 years old.  She had contracted Hepatitis B through a blood transfusion after a simple gall bladder surgery that went wrong after the birth of her daughter.  The disease went unnoticed until she became very, very ill and it was discovered that she had cancer.  The cancer started in her bile duct and had traveled into her liver.  She was in stage “four” of her cancer by the time it was caught.  They opened her up for exploratory surgery and closed her up immediately when they found it.  They gave her 30 days to live.  With the help of a bile bag, she lived for another year and a half.  Her daughter was six when she passed away.
.
I think of her so often.  Sometimes it is something as simple as a song, a lily, the color orange.  Sometimes it is a memory of a specific day that meant something to us.  Sometimes it is when something great (or sad) happens and I remember that she isn’t there for me to call.  It doesn’t go away, the pain of losing someone who was like your sister.  It gets a little easier, but it never quite goes away.  There will always be a hole in my heart from losing her.
 .
I learned so much from Alison as she went through her struggle with this awful disease.  I was always her rock, but she didn’t even realize how much of a rock she was to me, to everyone.  She taught me so many life lessons—right up until the end.  Here are just a few of the things that I learned from my sweet, sweet friend.  These things I will carry with me until the day I leave this world.  These things I will pass on to my children in every way that I know how.
.
Live every day as if it is your last.  Don’t be in expectation, but cherish every moment.  You don’t have to go great places all of the time.  You don’t have to have huge moments to have memories.  The one thing that her daughter remembered and cherished the most were their late night cereal sessions—mommy and daughter.  When her mother was gone, she told me that is what she would miss the most.
.
Eating cereal on the bed. ❤
.
Matteson, your mother taught you this lesson and you both taught me.  Family and friends say that I photograph every little moment. You and your mother are the reason for that.  When Logan is grown and has a family of his own, I hope to always remember his feet in the sand, his smirks, the way his eyes light up when he sees something new—these to me are the greatest moments of my life.  I hope he always remembers these little things that mean so much.
 .
Positivity can change your life.  Alison didn’t complain very much, considering. She had moments of pain and sadness, sure.  Oftentimes, I would receive a call in the middle of the night from her.  Usually she just wanted company.  Someday she needed more.  The truth is; however, that most days, she stayed quite positive.  “Everything is going to be okay,” she would say.  And she believed it!  It didn’t seem like it at the time.
 .
I spent every weekend with her from the day I was told of her diagnosis. (Aside from her time in LA in which I spent a month there with her and her daughter.) I traveled two hours to and from her home to be with her during this season.  She knew that I was soaking up every minute.  She looked at it as a blessing.  The very thing that was going to drive us apart forever, brought us closer than ever.  There is so much beauty in that.
 .
My world was thrown into a whirlwind the day that I received that call of her death.  I knew it was coming.  I remember leaving her that Sunday and bending over to kiss her forehead.  She pulled me in and whispered, “I love you so much.  Never forget me.  Be sure Matteson knows how much I love her”.   I knew the minute the phone rang why someone was calling.  I knew before I saw who was calling.  I knew she was gone from this earth.
.
Almost every time I saw her towards the end, she would tell me, “Just promise me that you will do whatever you need to do to be happy.  If you aren’t happy you have to make it a priority to find your happiness.  In the end, that is all that matters–happiness and love”.  Wise beyond her years, she may never have known what she did for me.  Her words rung loudly in my ears as I left my abusive (then) husband and started out for my new life.  I credit her with the amazing life that I have now.  She helped me to see my worth.
.
In all things, keep your faith in the forefront.  I remember the one day I heard her doubt her faith.  It was about two weeks after we returned from California.  We were heading to church that day.  She stood in the entrance, leaned her tired head on my shoulder and whispered, “I just don’t understand why this is happening to me.  Do I not have enough faith?”   It wasn’t about faith at all.  She was the most faithful person I’ve ever known.  I told her, “God didn’t choose this for you, Al.  Don’t lose sight of him”.
.
She never did doubt God again.  Day after day, she would thank God for each morning.  Every morning she had with us, with her sweet girl, that was God.  That was her blessing.  She received an additional 545 days with us.  Her love in God and her faith in him is what kept her with us, I’m sure of that.  She was on a mission.  She often gave me my own advice.  “Don’t lose sight of him, Mel”.  I can still hear her saying that in my ear.  Those words were meant to console her, but in the end, they consoled me in my grief.
.
Laughter truly is the best medicine.  Alison always looked forward to my visits.  She’d start calling on Wednesday to be sure I was going to make it.  I didn’t know why she thought I would ever not be there.  I never missed one weekend, but she always checked.  One day I asked her why she always doubted me.  She said that it wasn’t that she ever doubted me.  She said that she needed to hear I was coming because she needed me to be there—she needed to laugh.
.
Little did she know, I craved those visits as much as she did.  My life was not in the greatest of places either during this time.  And that girl could make me laugh like no other (even when that included laughing at herself).  I can hear her laughing now.  “I always feel so much better when you are here.  The laughter keeps me going,” she’d say.  Her mother said that she never felt as good as she did when we were together.  It wasn’t me.  It wasn’t my presence alone.  It was the comfort, the love, and the laughter.  Of this I’m sure.
.
Strawberries and peanut butter make everything better.  I know. It sounds disgusting.  But Al and I would sit and watch “Sex in the City” marathons and chow down on some strawberries and peanut butter.  She told me that it could never be a bad day with strawberries, peanut butter, and style.  That was Alison, folks.  The girl knew her stuff.  To this day when I’m sad, I crave strawberries and peanut butter like nothing else.
.
I’m thinking of her a lot today…more than usual.  I’m not really sure why.  Some days I just really miss her being here.  I have the memories of her.  She changed my life for the better and I live with those things every day.  Yes, there are awful, sad, painful memories.  Yet mostly when I think of Alison I feel nothing but happiness.  Life with her was an adventure. We went through so many things together.  Those moments I will cherish every day of my life.
 .
Someday I will see her again.  Her hair will be long and beautiful and her smile will be as big, bright, and sunny as always.  No more bile bag, no more yellow skin, no more limp in her walk.  I’ll look at her and smile.  I’ll hug her (she gave the best hugs ever) and tell her how much I have missed her face.  And at the end of the day, we will reminisce on the “old days”, while we eat cereal in bed in the middle of the night. ❤
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s