My friend died and I had no idea. For months she’s popped into my mind and I occasionally would send a text or email and when I didn’t hear back it didn’t occur to me that she was too ill to reach back. And now I’ve found out she’s died.
What do I do with that? I feel so deeply sad I don’t know what to do. I’m confused. I’m confused about how I missed this. But then, I shouldn’t be.
Anne and I worked together years ago at a local elementary school in the head office. There were a few of us who worked in the office and we had become a strong “work clique” before Anne was brought in as the financial manager. The day Anne started we were skeptical. She was a straight shooter, a bit older than us (okay she was a lot older than us) and to us, somewhat oddball. In true mean-girl fashion, we didn’t know what to make of her so we didn’t. She did her thing and we did ours.
Then somewhere along the way she and I would talk more and more. The more we talked the more I loved her. Turned out even though we were seemingly quite diverse from one another, we were a LOT alike. For starters, we are both Scorpios which always draws an alliance. She too was a member of Steelernation. But also, we always spoke with abandon – whether you liked or disliked what we had to say you can believe it would still be said. But we had similar values and an intense love of family. We definitely had the same humor gene. All in all it was great fun working with Anne. She became a confident and my inspirational guide through some tough situations in my life. She never judged and the vibe around her was never negative even when she was mad (she was a bit scary but you knew it was coming from a good place).
We used to joke that we were the odd couple of friends. Who knew that our friendship would carry on beyond our work life together?
Anna Banana (my nickname for her) and I remained friends. We didn’t hang out all the time or grab brunch and all of that but we stayed in touch. A few times a year at least we would chat and when Facebook came along we commented on each other’s posts frequently. I visited her a few times when she and Gary moved farther away and she also did our taxes. I loved that she would ding me for not having my shit together with my taxes but that at the same time didn’t judge me for it. Every time we spoke, emailed or visited we had great fun. I could just always count on her.
But now she’s gone. My last email to her was exactly 10 days before she passed and still I had no idea. See, she and I were great friends but it was a singular friendship. I adore her husband but we didn’t know each other well. I heard all about her kids but they’ve never met me. We didn’t share any other friends so when she passed, I just didn’t know. I’m always on Facebook for work so not on my personal account much. There are so many reasons to explain why I didn’t know but right now none of it makes sense to me. How can my friend have died and I didn’t know?
Earlier this month I thought to myself, “I haven’t gotten Anne’s holiday letter. I need to check in with her”. I didn’t. Last week I was thinking about taxes and finding an accountant and thought “What is up with ANNA Banana?! She was
better but I haven’t heard from her. I need to check in with her.” I didn’t. Yesterday on the way home from school Logan and I were talking about something and I said “There’s only one ANNA Banana and she’s the best.” He asked about her and I went on for a few minutes about our friendship and how awesome she is. I said to him, “She was really sick earlier last year. I need to see what’s up with her.” I didn’t. This evening I come home and in the mail is a holiday card from names that look familiar but I can’t place it. I open it to find faces I don’t quite recognize but am happy to sit and read the holiday letter. Immediately, I know.
Anne’s daughter must have inherited the holiday letter list and I am blessed to still be on it. The letter says that my friend passed away in November. Surrounded by her loved ones a day after her last birthday celebration peacefully.
I’m so deeply sad and miss her so much it aches. Possibly I knew and wasn’t prepared to deal with it but I don’t feel wholly prepared to deal with it now either.
I will grieve hard for this loss but will continue to celebrate the memory of my oddball friendship with an amazing lady I was fortunate enough to find in this life.