January 29th. Six months ago today my best friend and sister-in-law, Connie, died. She laid down for her usual afternoon nap, and didn’t wake up. I was at work in the emergency department at my hospital and one of my own patients was in critical condition. My sister Diane called and told me that Connie had been taken to the hospital and that she was “unresponsive”. Connie was a healthy 39 year old. There are very few things that cause “unresponsiveness” in healthy 39 year old. And I’m in healthcare. I’m an emergency room nurse. I recognize paramedicspeak when I hear it. I knew she was dead when I heard that. But in the grueling hour it took to go the 15 miles from the hospital where I was working to the hospital where Connie was, I tried to tell myself that there COULD be something that caused her to temporarily lose consciousness, and that when I walked into her room, she’d be sitting there, grinning and apologizing for causing such a stir. Pollyanna. When I walked into the room, she was lying there, peaceful and beautiful, still intubated but not breathing, and already getting cold. And my brother was at her side. It was a terrible moment which is seared into my memory. Hardly a day goes by where my mind does not drift to that scene. I imagine that as long as I live, seeing her there will be a part of my day. My life, all our lives, has been fundamentally changed with the loss of her. I didn’t ask then, and I haven’t asked yet. It doesn’t matter “why”, it only matters “that”. I worry that I will forget how much I love her. I worry that I will stop missing her.
But on days like today, when the tears come just as easily as they always have, I know I haven’t forgotten how much I love her, and I haven’t stopped missing her.