Monday, May 16, 2016

Life, Love, and Saying Goodbye

We don't live forever. Life reminded me of that this week with the death of a very dear friend. It wasn't sudden or unexpected - she had been battling PML for years and she had been on hospice care for about a month. She decided it was time and had stopped all meds. I'm sad that she's gone but I'm happy she's no longer in pain. Today, we said our final goodbyes at her funeral.

A Tale of Three Mikes

Our story started when we were in high school (it seems like yesterday but unfortunately it's been a few years ago). There were three of us practically joined at the hip - Melissa, Karen, and me. There were others but we were the core group. We were the three musketeers of the Froot Loops. We were not part of the "in crowd" but we didn't care - we had each other. We had many adventures and both good times and bad. We worried and then celebrated when Melissa had a baby our senior year, three weeks before graduation. Even after graduation we stayed close. We laughed, loved, and suffered heartbreak. It was us against the world.

Somehow, we have always been connected, even down to finding our forever loves. We found them at different times but they are all Mikes. Yep, we three all fell in love and married a Mike. Karen found her's first but she was the last to marry. She dated him in high school - she was a senior and he was a couple of years behind us. That's a big thing when you're in high school. Over 10 years later he looked her up and the rest is history.

Our lives spiraled out of control for a while when Melissa was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She fought and beat it after having the tumor and one ovary removed and undergoing chemo. And life evened out. 

She moved to a nearby town, meeting her Mike. It wasn't long after that when I met my Mike on a blind date. Against the odds Melissa became pregnant, got married, and had her second daughter. We celebrated again. And then, she had a son, David. We celebrated then we mourned when they lost him to SIDS. She just kept going, living and loving and missing her son. And life evened out again.

Life threw another curve ball Melissa's way. She was diagnosed with PML disease (click here for more info on PML). It took the use of her right arm and her ability to work. She fought and lived with this condition for years, even learning to write with her left hand. This year, the PML finally took it's toll on her body, she just couldn't fight any more. She fought long and hard, finally letting go on what would have been David's 20th birthday - she was able to wish her baby boy happy birthday for the first time ever.

They say God only gives you what you can handle. She was stronger than anyone else I've ever known. She dealt with having a baby at 17, ovarian cancer, her daughter being abused and the resulting trial, losing a baby to SIDS, and finally being diagnosed with PML disease. Just looking at that list, no one should be expected to deal with all that. But she did, and with grace and love. Don't get me wrong, there were good things too. Her daughters are strong, independent women, she met and married a wonderful man, and she's been able to know and love her family, including her grandchildren.

For me, making friends is hard and losing one is devastating. A piece of my heart is gone until the day we meet again. Love you forever Mo.

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