Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Why should I cry for you?
For some reason or another I have been thinking about my friend Bethany very often lately. Bethany died in the summer of 1996, when she was only 22 years old. She had lymphoma.
That summer was a horrible one for me, one of the worst. I was working full time on a terrible medical-surgical floor that was as close to being hell on earth as one can imagine. And I can imagine a lot. I was working three 13-hour shifts a week, often back to back due to babysitting issues with Zach, then only 4. I would work 6 pm until about 8 or 9 every morning, after having a very heavy 11 patient assignment and still being a relatively new nurse. I would sleep until about 1:30 pm when my dad dropped Zach back home to me on his way to work ...so that was about 4 or 5 hours of sleep a "night". I was 6 or 7 months pregnant with Josh. I was getting sicker with him, developing high blood pressure which would put me out of work early...almost 2 months before he was born. That July my 16 year-old cousin Lisa, was in a tragic and stupid accident that took her life. My extended family would never be the same. I was only 23 and I felt so much older.
So one morning in August, I was reading the obituaries as I always do, either being morbid or because I often knew patients or their family members who were featured. I scanned the named quickly and my heart sank. I sat on my bed and read it over and over. It couldn't be. It isn't. There was no way. And then I started to cry and I didn't stop until Adam got home from work.
She had been sick all through college. I never knew. She thought I had enough stress with work,having a child so young, buying a house...she didn't want her friends to be upset or worried about her. And, as it happens with friends, you fall away from each other when you go to college. I had seen her the New Years prior and everyone around her said how wonderful she looked because she had lost some weight. It was because she was sick and we just didn't know. I don't know which is better, the not knowing and hurting with her or the chance to see her and talk to her before she left. I had talked to her off and on, we exchanged letters, as this was a bit before the age of email. But our lives rolled on and away from each other. It it tragic, but it happens all the time.
I met Bethany when she was an adorable freshman just joining drama club. I was a sophomore and drama club was the one place I found solace in the scary world of high school. I belonged there. I had incredible friends there. Those friends I was close to like no others. We spent hours and hours together after school. We were "outcasts" together, we made dumb inside jokes, felt the sweat through call-backs, almost killed ourselves with power tools building sets, practiced the same lines over and over together, we carried on silly traditions ( like Latin prayers before shows, gag cast gifts, Pizza Hut after opening night and all-night cast parties at the close of the shows, and our catch phrase "Join Drama, you don't hafta run!") and every stupid superstition. We were the "Drama Brats", the small core of us.
We shared secrets, food, illnesses, heart-breaks, homework, poems and our whole lives. Our lives changed for the better the minute we stepped into the musty auditorium. It sounds so overly corny when I read it , but every word of that is true or at least how I felt. Those drama friends were the first to know that I was pregnant in high school and they gave me more support than I could have dreamed of and all the care and concern I needed. They are some of the best people I have ever met in my life. Bethany was the best of the best. Sincere, with the most beautiful smile you could imagine. The gentle way she would smile, hug me and gather up my hair in one hand to smooth it out or twist it into a quick braid, always made me feel better, no matter what was going on with me at the time. There were many days that found me curled up on her shoulder or in her lap, her quiet way soothing me while brushing my hair got me through. And we would always end up laughing and feeling amazingly better. I love the way she would giggle and gently chastise me for my potty mouth or an utterance the should never have been let out of my own head and she would say "Hide, really!" but it made her giggle and her eyes crinkle up in a smile anyway. She was in one word, the very definition of sweet. She was..she is my Beth-y. She called me her good luck charm, but really, she was mine.
Adam and I went to the funeral home that night. I was greeted by all of our mutual friends. They filled me in on what had happened with Bethany, the details of her being sick. Obviously she fought with every ounce of strength and beauty in her, she wanted her casket closed, so we would remember the happy Bethany, the beautiful smile and her long chestnut hair. Her mom hugged me and whispered to me how happy Bethany was to hear we were having another boy. She smiled and told me how much Bethany loved me, and she touched my face and left me before she started to cry again.
We spent that night with our friends, trying to laugh, remembering all those little things, those little things that meant everything to us.
The next day I headed to work, I sat in my car and the song "Why Should I Cry for You" by Sting came on the radio.
Sometimes I see your face,
The stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you?
Why must I?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?
Why would you want me to?
And what would it mean to say,
That, "I loved you in my fashion"?
It makes me cry to this day. Every time. Even just reading that verse. Did she know I "loved her in my fashion" even though we didn't see each other at the end? Even though we didn't talk as much as we would have liked? I think she did. Even though that song makes me cry, it gives me peace too, like Bethany wanted me to hear it. She didn't want me to cry about her, even though I did so very much, and I still do every once in while. She was always the one to talk me out of a funk. To make it better so many times. Maybe she was doing it again. She just couldn't brush my hair like she used to...she had to do something else for me.
She was just like that...sweet and kind and doing things for other people to feel better. As she signed my yearbook..she was "the best Bethany around" and will be forever to me. I love her. In my fashion.