Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Falling Apart, I'm Barely Breathing With A Broken Heart That's Still Beating

      The title of this post was taken from the song Broken by Lifehouse.

     I met Deb while taking my Masters classes for special education. She was bubbly, hard working, and always had something to say. I was shy, reserved, and often didn't talk. As the weeks, and classes went on, we became friends. We even applied for, and was hired at the same private day school, as special education teachers. From then on we were friends. She taught me all she knew about Montessori learning styles, and we would bounce ideas off each other. We started having Monday night family dinners together. One week she would cook, and the next I would. Our children looked forward to those Monday nights together. Her daughters would sometimes babysit for me, so that she and I could go out to dinner. One night I was working late, trying to finish report cards. She came to the school, looked me in the eye, and said "Get home to your family. This does not matter at seven at night. Your family does." She always helped me keep my perspective.
     Deb, had a personality like no other. She was often very blunt with me in what she thought, and had no trouble telling me what I needed to do to get myself on track. I took lessons from her, and her life experiences. When she had to be put on dialysis, I remember her smirking, and saying "Eh, no biggie, I'll get through it. It's just a kidney." I remember taking off work to be with her on one of the occasions she had to have her peritoneal catheter replaced. She joked with the doctors the whole time. 
     For awhile we lost touch. Life got busy, and our visits became fewer and further between. Mike passed away on her birthday, April 14. For a week Deb never left our side. She cleaned my house, did my laundry, bathed my kids, and helped with meals. She was there for every step of that process. We talked a lot over the last six months. From her reminding me that I have beautiful children to live for, to her candid advice. 
     About a month ago we went shopping for material. She wanted to take Mike's old shirts and make quilts for myself and the kids. We picked out all kinds of fabric, and all the things she would need. She was so excited to do this for us. It's the kind of friend she was. That day we went out to dinner, and we talked about our families. She talked a lot about her girls, as she always did, and you could see how proud she was of them and all of their accomplishments. She cared nothing for herself, but she wanted everything for her children. She talked of her love for her husband, and how she was enjoying his trips in. We talked of our future plans, and how she wanted to go back to college. She listened as I quietly talked of my day to day struggles. She gently reminded me that she would always be here for us. 
    Last Tuesday Deb sent me a text and said she wasn't feeling well that she was in a lot of pain, and that her husband was going to take her to UVA the next day. Her last text to me was this

"No worries now...there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I will be ok...always am."

Always the fighter, and never the one to show concern for herself, I believed her. Yesterday, when I hadn't heard from her I sent her a text and told her I was worried about her, and thinking of her.
     Today at 1:56 pm I received a phone call from Deb's daughter. I had missed the call, but thinking it was odd she would call, I immediately called her back. She informed me that they were taking Deb off life support. My heart sank to my stomach, and the tears came. I had to ask for her to repeat it again, because my mind wasn't able to process it the first time around. I went back to my class and cried. How could my bright bubbly friend, the one who thought of everyone except herself, be on life support. Where had I been the last four days not to know that things were that bad. She passed away shortly thereafter. I couldn't hold it together. The kids were so fond of Deb, and they took it pretty hard. Tyler crying that it wasn't fair, and worrying that she would see her daughters anymore. I cried most of the evening. I pulled it together enough to take Mason trick or treating, but my heart wasn't in it. Deb often joked that Mike passing on her birthday would forever change how she saw that day. Her passing on Halloween, will forever change how I see this day.
     I miss my friend. I will miss her random messages of encouragement. I will miss our quiet talks on her front porch. I will miss her laughter, especially when she was laughing at me over something I couldn't quiet do right. She often joked about my lack of gardening skills, and she helped keep my plants alive. I ache for what her daughters are going through. I hate that my kids now have this in common with them. 
     I'm a little angry too. I'm angry that my heart has been ripped open by another loss. Mike in April, a student from our school passed over the summer, and now Deb. We've lost two pets this year, and I'm not sure how much more the kids can take. How much more will I have to endure? My heart is once again breaking and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. I'm tired. Simply tired. 
     Rest in peace my dear Deb, and know that your legacy lives on in the many lives you've touched. Paint rainbows with Mike, and give him the hugs I can not. Watch over all of those who love you, and know that you will forever be missed.


Jennifer said...

Amazing!! Your words capture Deb so perfectly!!! Hugs and Prayers for the Schiff family and for your family as well!!!

Beverly said...

Melanie.....I didn't know her but from your beautiful words , now I feel like I do. I'm thankful that you & she were such great friends & that she was there for you , these past 6 months. She sounds like an amazing lady !!!!! I will keep her family in my prayers. And you & yours , as well. Hang in there !

Unknown said...

Thank you for this Melanie, I needed it right now.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry to hear of yet another loss for you this year. She sounds like an amazing person who deeply impacted your life. Thank you for sharing your memories of her with us and know that there are those of us sending hugs, prayers and encouragement your way...even though we've never met. My deepest sympathy on the passing of your friend, Deb. Take care.

beth said...

Melanie, I was looking online at the Virginian Review and I saw Deb's obituary and thought of you immediately. I am so sorry she has passed. I know she was a very special friend to you and the two of you loved each other very much. This has undoubtedly been the hardest year of your life. My heart aches for both of your families and I will keep you all in my prayers. beth