Thursday, August 16, 2007

RIP Jo - Update

I lost a friend this week.

Several years ago she and I worked together. I had known her for 4 years before that though because she worked at the architects office that the construction company I worked for did most of their business with. I went with one of the project managers when he started his own business. The following year after we had grown enough that I needed help in the office she came on board and our acquaintance grew into a friendship.

She worked there for close to 3 years when she decided to go somewhere else that suited her better. But while she was there she had to have a hysterectomy because she had had a fibrous tissue 1 and 1/2 times the size of a cantaloupe. The surrounding tissues on the cervix were precancerous. Several years later during a routine check at her own home she found a lump on her left breast. Sure enough it was cancer.

She ended up having a mastectomy and chemo sessions for awhile after. Then she was blessfully cancer free.

Then in February at her 6 month check up they found more cancerous cells. She went back in for chemo sessions every Friday morning. In April or May she started having fluid build up in the stomach and would have to have it pumped out. She'd usually go about once a week for that, sometimes more. Then in June because she started going almost every day they gave her some contraption she could use herself to drain it.

We would go to dinner every few months with Emailing quite often in between the dinners. We could go a whole month without talking and then one of us would send an Email and then we'd be going back and forth for weeks before it'd peter out again. My last Email from her was in June and she had let me know her last Chemo Friday was July 20th. So far it seemed like it was working and with another month to go she should be all good.

She was glad that it was almost over because she was getting sick and tired of it all. But it didn't sound like she was tired enough to give up. But she must have gotten pretty darn sick to not have called or Emailed me. Or she didn't want me to worry and/or fuss over her. I can see her thinking she wouldn't want to burden me with it. I'm not angry with her for not letting me know, just very very sad that I wasn't able to say goodbye.

I had a feeling she had either died or at least gotten very sick. I had sent her an Email the 1st week of July and she didn't respond right away like usual. The longest she had ever gone without responding was a week and a half and that was back in February when she got sick again. Then I got busy and didn't send another one until 3 weeks later plus a couple joke Emails but she didn't respond to any of them either. Then last week I sent one to her with the subject line of "WHERE ARE YOU!?!" with the note saying, "You're making me worried. Send something back even if it's an I'm still here but busy." But nothing. I kept meaning to check for an obit but then kept forgetting to. Then the other day I received a confirmation that my last Email was read but the name that came along with the confirmation was a man's name. I knew it then and there but still didn't look for an obit right then because I was actually in the middle of something. Then forgot again later when I actually had time. But turns out that it wouldn't have done any good anyway. Not until today anyway.

Then this morning I received an Email from a girl that had worked with us stating she had just seen her obit in the paper. Her wake is tomorrow so HD and I will be going. There was no mention of a funeral but that makes sense since she wanted to be cremated and she wasn't religious in any way.

She was such a good person. She was several years older than me; she turned 60 at the end of March. She was almost as old as my mother but she in no way acted like it. She had no kids of her own but was like me - a devoted spoiler of an aunt to her nieces and nephews and then great nephews. She was funny with one of the driest senses of humor ever. Her favorite animal was a frog; very odd.

Because of her I have about 6 or so subcontractor t-shirts and sweatshirts. She would threaten our subs not to pay them if they didn't give us a shirt or sweatshirt. The guys in the field and our boss always got them and she said it wasn't fair that we never did so she started threatening and they obliged.

If you're wondering why I didn't just pick up the phone and call her it's because I didn't have her home phone number. She had given it to me ages ago, in an Email no less, after she moved in with her older sister. But after I printed it out I deleted the mail and then proceeded to lose the printout. And because we always did so well with the Emails and dinners we never felt the need to call each other.

Sad, very sad.

I think this will fit the best. She always said we made a great pair plus it mentions a frog:

Media quote of the day:

I'M Nobody! Who are you?
Are you--Nobody--too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise--you know!

How dreary--to be--Somebody!
How public--like a Frog--
To tell your name--the livelong June--
To an admiring Bog!
Emily Dickinson (1858)

UPDATE - I talked with her niece at the wake and found out a little more. It seems that right after the last email I had gotten from her in June she went down hill fast. She couldn't keep any food down at all. She was down to liquid foods even. She went into a cancer research hospital in a nearby town for some tests and along with the breast that she had been fighting with the chemo they found a mass on her stomach. I believe it was after they found that mass that the doctor gave her 3 months. After more tests they found several more tumors on her brain. She went in 1 1/2 months.

Her niece said they wanted to try to get a hold of people but she didn't have very many numbers in her cell phone and the company she worked for wouldn't let them access her email contact list for any personal addresses. They wouldn't even right down the list themselves and give it to the family. So people like me had to find out the way I did, either word of mouth, read the paper or go online. I'm glad I did find out that's for sure.


Anonymous said...

Such a shame! So sorry.

Paper Fan Club said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend. Very sorry for your loss. I was recently at the funeral of a very good, caring person who cancer took while she was too young; you can't help but wonder why her?

Dan said...

Katrina, this is so very sad. But what a lovely post and a wonderful tribute to her. You and she are in my thoughts and prayers. And the frog. Lovely poem by Emily. Great choice.

Hugs Katrina.

Katrina said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate it all.

I'm at work and although I am doing it my mind keeps wandering to her and the good times we had. I will miss her very much.