My Best Friend Died Last Night – What You Need To Know

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This was not unexpected. She and I have gotten to the age our circle of friends has started to diminish. It occurred to us the day Johnny Carson died, if your cultural icons weren’t immortal, we probably weren’t either.

About 3 weeks ago Linda’s heart simply stopped. She was rushed to the hospital and  altho it took three times to get her completely stabilized, they did. Her heart was working at 10% and they didn’t think she was going to make it, but she fooled them and rallied. Two weeks ago there was talk of moving her to a nursing home and starting limited rehab, we were hopeful. She had fooled everyone before by beating Lung Cancer a few years ago. A week ago her condition deteriorated and the decision was made to stop her dialysis and move her to hospice care. She had been on dialysis twice a week for three years, it was clear there would be no more rallies, no more hope. I was angry at first, certainly they knew stopping  the dialysis would kill her. But like so many treatments there comes a time when the physical cost of doing them doesn’t enhance the quality of life that is left.

Below the fold I will share a taste of our 50 year friendship.

Linda was born July 31st, 1945. She as an adorable baby, the first of three to her parents, Jack and Peg. Linda grew up middle class comfortable, one of the lucky last children of that golden time when small towns were safe good places to raise families, when Moms stayed home and families ate supper together every night at the dining room table, not in front of the TV.

We met in August of 1960, during those few days every year we were the same age,  at a tea for the head of the high school drama department. Linda was going to be a sophomore, me, a Junior. You hear about love at first sight, soul mates referencing romances and almost never when describing those deep sisterly relationships that sustain us through life. It was that way with us, across Mr. Kramer’s crowded back yard our eyes met and the connection was made. We left the tea together and were virtually inseparable.

We used to joke about the reason our friendship lasted so long is the only thing we shared was allergies. Couldn’t share clothes because she was short and I was very tall and we never shared men, with the exception of my ex-husband but at the same time.  She did in fact introduce me to my husband shortly after we met, on my birthday. She wanted to keep her best friends close and hooking them up romantically seemed like such a good idea at 15.

I had a car, a battleship gray 49 Plymouth with about a bazillion miles on it. The Plymouth gave it up on a wild ride down Interstate 29 during a cheeseburger run. Fortunately for us, Linda had just turned 16 and immediately offered up her father’s brand spanking new Cadillac Coupe DeVille. I was shocked her parents actually agreed to letting Linda driving the new car. The rules were we could have the car when her Mother didn’t need it and we couldn’t take it out of town. But we did take it out of town because I figured out how to turn back the odometer. The Coupe DeVille started a life long Saturday event, the “adventure.” We would jump in the car and start driving to see what we could see and find what we could find. Did I mention her Dad was so disappointed in the Cadillac he traded it for a Ford Fairlane 1965 because even though it had very low miles it was falling apart. We figured the real mileage was over 100,000 by that time, LOL.

We spent the next three years, until she went away to college, living large. Playing hide and seek, our friends would take off in a car and we would go find them. The summer of Mono when everyone in our circle got it except me.  Being introduced to real politics by her parents who were outrageously, even dangerously liberal for the time.  Joining the NAACP together, the beginning of our activism spanning many years and many issues. Years later it was Linda who explained to me I wasn’t really pro-life but rather pro-choice because I wasn’t willing to force my choice on others. Our unique ability to sing in off key harmony, it just cracked her Dad up and HAD to be done whenever there was company in the house. The middle of the night search for a cheeseburger. Part of Linda’s life long addiction to those better than chocolate little artery slammers.  The holidays at her house, the weeks at a time I would just live there and we shared her room. Her family became my family sharing with me everything involved loving parents give their children.

Her divorce, my move to California in 1966, even my divorce from her other best friend didn’t really change much other than it made Saturday adventures something we enjoyed on vacations.  Not every year but every year one of us could manage, it became our insane sanity time. I would pack up the kids jump in my 67 Mustang Convertible and we would set a new land speed record between where ever we were living and Linda.

One year Linda and I took the road trip in the Mustang from Seattle to her house, top down, shoes off, Bob Seeger blaring getting the mother of all tans. She was a crazy driver, not unsafe just … well her nick name was Teo-fucking- Fabi and the Mustang could really go. Years of vacations and bi-coastal birthday celebrations.  The final visit of her mother to Seattle when she was standing at the edge of the abyss that is Alzheimer’s. Decorating the Interurban for their arrival, caught while doing it and winding up on the front page of the PI. Something Linda believed I managed on purpose because it included a nice little write up on why we were doing it.

Then in 1990 I fell trough a deck and wound up back in Omaha at my mother’s in 1993. I was suffering from chronic pain, depression and sleep deprivation, the unholy trinity. I called her in the middle of the night to essentially tell her good bye, to tell her how much her friendship had meant to me. She asked me not to do anything until I saw her, she was on her way. She drove all night to get to Omaha, to pack me up and take me home with her. Did she save my life? I guess we will never know, but I was at a place I didn’t think I would ever reach and haven’t been since, the place of ENOUGH.

Linda had worked for years in welfare, she knew how to get me help and medical care. She just took over and I trusted her enough to let her. She had a roomate at the time, a nurse and Linda insists she discussed it with Diane. I am not sure given the time frame the discussion ever really took place except after the fact. But what was agreed was I would live with them and my only contribution would be cooking dinner for them when I was able. It worked because I am a good cook and really enjoy it.

My 50th birthday was a few months after I arrived and I sure didn’t feel much like celebrating. Linda decided we should celebrate my 51st as my 50th and invited dozens of people to a huge surprise party for me, asked them to invite everyone they knew. They took over the lounge at a bowling alley, there were hundreds of people there and the band played. It was amazing.

My recovery is due to Linda.  Later a mutual friend told me Linda was staggered by the call from someone she always thought of as the rock, devasted by what she found and angry this could have happened. We resumed our Saturday adventures, she found ways to get me doing all the things that had brought me enjoyment before and the depression started to lift and I was sleeping better. She got me with the Doctor she worked for who treated me free, the ultimate family discount. She found me an incredible grief therapist who in turn got me into a pain clinic,  the final part of the turn around. I got back to work and would still be there had it not been for my mother’s problems and moving back to Omaha. But she was close and I saw her several times a year. Until last year and the $4 a gallon gas.  We had planned to get together this summer. Last night we had cheeseburgers in honor of Linda.

Linda

Linda

I have some videos of our favorite band, Braxton Hix and favorite songs, player in Linda’s favorite color purple. The band is made up of long time friends including my Doctor. These are home movies so the quality isn’t the greatest.

Clip Linda’s 60th Birthday Party, 8-14-05 Dancing with her son Michael.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

The band always opens with Time Is Tight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Linda’s all time favorite Swingtown These home movies were taken mid October 2005

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Land of a Thousand Dances or Na Nana Na as it is known by most of our friends.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Last Call

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

So what you need to know.

It wasn’t her heart, it wasn’t her kidneys that cost her life. It wasn’t the cheeseburgers, it was cookies that killed Linda.  She has been treated for Type II diabetes more than 20 years.  During that time she never adjusted her diet, she never stopped pigging out on cookies or any other sweet that came her way. Her control of her sugar was so bad she was moved to insulin 5 years ago. She went to a class on how to live with insulin and adjust your diet accordingly. But she also learned how to cheat the system or so she thought. It was about accomodating the occasional birthday cake, not eating a package of cookies every night after work as a pick me up. The move to insulin was an effort to save her vital organs and it might have worked but for the damned cookies.

There is a predisposition to diabetes in my family it can be an ugly kill you by inches disease. The good news is it is treatable, controllable. If there is diabetes in your family, a parent or sibling, if you are even a little over weight and do not get enough exercise you are at risk. There is a ton of information about diabetes on the web and not to scare you so much as encourage you to be smart about your health and the health of your loved ones please check them out.

Possibly the best, take their test –  http://www.diabetes.org/

And lay off the damned cookies.

13 comments

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  1. Cross posted on KOS

  2. for your loss. Your right the sweeties will do you in, or even if not, make you your life miserable. Cookies I can do without cakes and pies are my downfall but I feel best sugarless. I’m going for a walk after this. Once again sorry for you, best friends are not replaceable.  

  3. Diabetes is like a plague in this country. The food is designed to bomb the population with sugar. When I got back from Germany after my enlistment was up, I immediately saw the difference.

    I tell everyone when I get the chance about Stevia. It works very well for me. Do NOT use that Coca-Cola crap, Truvia. It is NOT real Stevia and was ramrodded through the FDA unfairly so that they’d have a monopoly on selling it in the stupormarkets.

    http://www.sweetleaf.com

    Also avoid Splenda, it was never really tested and it’s starting to come to light that it may have just as many health issues associated with it as Aspartame/Nutrasweet.

    I hope you will be ok. She sounds like a very beautiful person.

  4. the loss of my dear beautiful wife, to cancer Oct. 22 08.

    I’m told it takes a very long time to start feeling better.

    Give time respect – it is slow, but it is steady, and it will do what it does.

    Just not on “our” timetable.

    Here’s hoping that broken glass feeling begins to fade soon.

    xo

  5. when we can no longer see or touch those that have crossed over…..

    we can still feel them in ourselves and those they touched around us…..

    we all live on in the living that stays behind……

    I thank you for her beauty……

    • Viet71 on March 28, 2009 at 12:10 am

    You are so great here.

    I am sorry about your loss.

    Life ends in death.

    Each of us takes his or her own path to that end.

    • dkmich on March 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    We have a lab here in Detroit that is developing a test for diabetes that will detect it so early that the disease can be prevented from being.  They think it will come to market in 18 months.  

    Like you, I have a life long friend.  We met when we were 13; and 50 years later, we are still in touch today.  We had midnight rides in the family car in our PJs to just run here or there, and we are absolutely a part of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue cruises from the Totem Pole all the way up to Ted’s.  Her parent’s would give her the car only if she promised to let me drive.   Those truly were the golden years.  I am so sorry about your friend.  

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