Sunday, July 24, 2016

Man's Best Friend

Phil is my best friend. He's my husband, the father of my kids, but when it comes down to it- he is the person I want by my side when shit gets real, when I need to have an ugly cry or when I just need to laugh.

There are times when I want to strangle the ever loving shit out of him.

This is not one of those times. We have a history of hugely inappropriate laughter in doctors' offices. So last week we are in the neurosurgeon's appointment. On the way I hit 2 flipping birds- they fly into cars here- some sort of natural selection I guess but it really puts a damper on the day. So I'm mulling over the loss of life- or killing proficiency as Phil calls it and wondering if that in my attempts at meditating and harnessing energy to heal I've created a weird force field around my car that birds are drawn to - when a golf ball smacks into my car door. This does not help my mood or opinions of the "sport"of golf. And clearly I'm flicking meditating wrong now too. Fortunately traffic comes to a screeching halt on the highway- so I call the golf course to report it. I will have to swing by (ha ha ha) after my appointment. This really doesn't seem important- dent in car, tumor in head. Kinda got bigger fish to fry. But we will see. This might be a principle thing.

So back to the exam- I have to go through the neuro tests. Which I am not great at under perfect circumstances- much less the weight of brain tumor and trying to pretend everything is just fine-land. Tough- nose to finger- nose to finger. Reflexes. Walk back and forth. On tip toes. No really, on your tippy toes. Ugh. Hop on one foot...

Phil: Bark Like a DOG!     simultaneously  me: I WILL NOT BARK LIKE A DOG!

If you haven't seen Coming to America, shame on you. But here's the clip that as the neurosurgeon looked on in horror- I had to explain because Phil was laughing so hard he couldn't speak. Sometimes you just gotta laugh to get through. I'm sure listening to how your best friend has a tumor in her head sucks donkey balls so I'm giving him some leeway here.

I've had lots of friends in my life. Really really good friends. I have had some really really shitty friends.  When I was a teen, my dad used to say I had a problem with strays. I thought it was that I'd been adopting furry friends with issues since I was little. He meant my friends. I see someone in need and I want to fix it. Maybe it's because I read every Judy Blume book as soon as I could. And Reader's Digest by the cart full. Maybe it's just who I am. I've always been uncomfortable in groups. I'm much better with one good friend at a time. Once you are my good friend, you will always be.

Adopting the Air Force Lifestyle meant a whole new string of best friends every few years. As much as the good byes sucked, I know I have wonderful friends all over the world. I've dealt with my fair share of mean girls and sorority girls, not all are entirely bad but I do have my limits. Mostly I learned that people's differences can both infuriate me and make me better if I appreciate them for who they are. If it does not make me better, then I limit my exposure to them.

Almost 8 years ago, I was out doing yard work in the front. A car pulls up and a lady asks me something or other about what I was doing. My first thought was- dude I'm trying to squeeze 3 hours of work in a one hour nap time - really don't have time for this. Then I see two little faces peeking at me from her back seat. Right around Kiera's age. Kiera was the social one. So I chatted with my new neighbor Monica and met her daughters Sophia and Olivia. Monica and I had many adventures in the years we were neighbors. Redid floors, painted, crafted, parented, friended. She became my kids' other mom- as well as mom to most of the neighborhood. If something broke- either she or her husband would surely know how to fix it- mechanical, inanimate, human or pet. When they moved last year, it took me months before I could even get around the huge hole in my life to call her. Mostly because doing all the shit she used to help with took a while helluva lot of time and energy.

I am not always the best at keeping in touch lately. But I also appreciate how busy everyone else is and that everyone has their own crises. When I do get to chat with my friends, even if it's a quick message stream- it feels like a luxury, yet the true friends I've kept over the years are the type who don't hold grudges and when we do talk or meet up- you'd never know we hadn't seen each other in 10 years. When she and Tom were in town for a much too short weekend- it was wonderful but also felt like a big scab got ripped off. I got so busy in the day to day I forgot how much I liked them and missed them.  And in true friend fashion- I had brought her gifts from Europe. Tea, trinkets and truffle oil from Italy. Monica laughs and runs out to the car to retrieve her gift for me- truffle oil. That's just how it is.

Her girls came to visit this summer and would pop in and out like they used to. Except everyone is a lot taller. And has much bigger cup sizes. One morning I get the fateful call from Monica. Skippy- their beloved diabetic poodle died. Now, Skippy almost died about 8 times previously. I personally said goodbye to Skippy 3 times- tears and all. Phillip and Skippy often bonded over insulin shots and I swear that pup could sniff out cancer. Yet it is still not easy to say goodbye to a friend. "Should I tell the girls?" she asked. Um yeah. I am not a fan of postponing information like this- it just makes grief messier and gives people a piece of anger to fixate on. As a mom, I know she didn't want them to grieve and not be there in person, but grief and loss is hecka inconvenient like that. I won't tell my girls, so if her girls need to,  they can. I do tell Kiera and Phillip, they are older and need to process so they can support their friends.  It's part of grieving, the telling and the processing. I recognize this and teen girls, well they are teen girls. So I JOKINGLY say- just send some of his ashes here- we can sprinkle them in his favorite spots. You know- where he would shit in my yard.

I am all for memorials and closure, but Monica and I have different views on spreading of ashes. I feel they should be spread. She keeps them in a closet tucked between yards and bolts of craft fabric. In my world that is a spillage and vacuuming nightmare waiting to happen. I'm not entirely being an insensitive ass, I was mostly trying to make her laugh- I've spread some ashes in my day so I'm "allowed" to weigh in. I know everyone deals in their own time and timing and location has to be right. And sometimes you need a friend to help you with the hard stuff or to lighten up the moment. Or a friend to ship half of your beloved poodle's ashes to. Yeah I'm that friend. I am not the funny friend. Or the wild friend. I am the friend that can be trusted to dispose of ashes. Or bodies. Remember that. On second thought - don't-I'm kinda maxed out right now.

In walks Phil, a week or so later. Why are there packages to Alyssa from Monica on the kitchen table? Oh those are Skippy's ashes and some other items.

Lily- skippy DIED?

Tears. oh shit. Phillip- Skippy died? Well dammit- I KNOW I told the big kids. Kiera looks at me- I told him right- she nods- you totally told him. But the girls didn't tell Lily and Bella?  Kiera- guess not. Obviously. Outstanding.

Phil- please tell Monica that she has earned herself a ziplock full of ashes when you die.

See he's the funny one. God I love him.

Since the boxes are not addressed to me- I can't actually open them and dispose of, I mean scatter ashes. And I think Alyssa is avoiding it. So I might have to get all friend on her because the extended puppy wake has moved from the kitchen table to the hall table. At least the girls don't tear up anymore and say- oh skippy in that really sad voice.  And that's the thing about friends. I can call Monica ugly crying from a park bench around the corner because I don't want to have to explain to the kids for the 3rd time that morning that I'm ok, I'm just sad. Because they and I both know I am more than just sad and I don't have the energy to address it right then. Yet as they grow I hope they see and know that is why I am choosey about my friends and help them to be selective with theirs. We are kind to everyone and have tons of room for endless friendships, but in our lives the true friends will be tested over and over. And I hope they will have friends they can ugly cry with and be trusted with ashes.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)