It used to be huge. Everything was huge. She didn’t have a party, she had events. Summer parties for a hundred of her closest friends and food and drinks for two hundred. If you were her friend you were a close friend.
The circle was huge.
There were no simple acquaintances.
Ringing the cow bell from the car, for every mile of a 200 mile bike race. And laughing. Laughing and ringing that bell for 14 hours. Every time she saw me she’d yell, “you got this bro…” Every time.
Thanksgiving – two turkeys and hams and roast beef. One year we had take out Chinese too. A constant flood of people. Me, the perpetual neat freak finally throwing in the towel and taking a plate and a seat on the floor. No way to keep up with the mess.
She’d say, “We will clean tomorrow. Tonight, Siesta.”
The constant background of Spanish music. I never understood a word, except, “caliente”.
One year we had twenty pies. We lined them up on the table and took pictures and laughed.
We laughed, but there was a present and palpable gratitude. Nothing taken for granted. A deep and abiding thanks for every friend and every bite of food.
Christmas – and maybe the mortgage was forgotten or a car payment. There we gifts to buy for everyone. Every one of her close friends. And trees and more pies. I gained ten pounds every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a condition of being within the sphere of her friendship.
Her huge friendship.
The night I met her she was mad at me. She tried to run me over with her car.
She said the other night, in a whispy and frail voice, “I am glad I didn’t run you over that night, bro…” and we hugged and laughed, but it wasn’t the huge laugh, it was quiet and small and subdued.
The huge is gone.
Eighty pounds gone.
The long, black curly hair is gone.
I shaved my head. She said, “now we are twins, no one will be able to tell us apart!”
That’s the body, I realize, the spirit is and will always be huge.
The days of enough food to feed an army is replaced by a small bowl of soup. Half-eaten, she is full.
OxyContin and Morphine…
The spirit is becoming contained. The hundreds of close friends are shrinking to a core few. I’m honored to still be in that shrinking group.
The circle is smaller.
I’m watching you fade away before my eyes and I’m helpless.
For the first time in my life I realize there is nothing I can do.
I realize screaming only makes my throat sore.
Punching a wall only breaks my hand.
Diminished is the word that will not leave my head. A life diminishing, fading. It seems to be one cell, one molecule at a time. Imperceivable daily before my eyes, but evident week to week.
A sense and a sadness that now that cancer has eaten the body with its unending hunger it has now turned its horror on the soul.
It will never take that life force that is my friend. She is more than any person I’ve ever known.
She will always be a force.
She will always be huge.