Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life goes on...

...but the planet seems a little empty without Sheila on it.

I want to write the full story here so I have it to remember. We are headed out of town tonight for our 6th anniversary celebration...going to Big Sur. I am excited for this. Bad news is that my weight is really bad. I am certain it is from NO exercise and I am going to try hard to get back on that wagon when we get home. I know that grief is no excuse, but it's been very hard to focus on being "good" the past 2 weeks.

Here's what happened:

Friday, July 9, at 12:30 I got a call from a friend of Sheila's, Patty. Sheila (who had been fighting AML -- leukemia) for almost two years is probably nearing the end. Of course, I totally lose it. They think she has maybe a couple of days. I talk with Patty and another friend of Sheila's who lives in SoCal. We all agree that it is stupid to try to go back to NY to see her...she is surrounded by lifelong friends who have been taking care of her so well. I, inadvertently, start a snowball of e-mails by sending a quick one to the friends I know just so we have each other's e-mail addresses...everyone starts chiming in with memories of Sheila,
prayers, love...

I cry most of the afternoon on Friday, but I still go out to see Eclipse on Friday night as planned with a friend. Right before the movie, I get an e-mail from another of Sheila's nearest and dearest LA people. I tell him what I know: Sheila tried to drive herself to the hospital on Tuesday, July 6 (stubborn woman!) and collapsed in her parking lot. Her landlady had to call a friend to come take her. They say she is in and out of consciousness. They have stopped treatments and are giving her morphine to keep her comfortable. We cry.

Saturday there are many more emails from the Circle of Sheila Friends (as we are calling ourselves). I drink three Bloody Marys at breakfast to try to be able to sleep the horrible afternoon away, but all I end up doing is lying in bed crying. So many many tears. Late in the day, with no bad news, some of us dare to hope that she will make it through. I bought her a birthday present (her birthday is
7/27). DB and I went out to a fun show for the 16th b-day of the daughter of some friends and we go to bed very late, very drunk and very hopeful.

We wake up Sunday morning to the dreaded e-mail. Sheila passed away that morning. I can't stop crying and saying "nonononononononono". DB is crying too. We ultimately pull ourselves together and head out for coffee and breakfast. We decide to go to Sheila's favorite beach restaurant where we never go because the service sucks so bad. I'm crying off and on the whole time. I can't believe it. Sheila was only 63, always watched what she ate, always exercised, very into yoga, etc.

We get to the restaurant and, for the first time EVER, we get great service. We thank Sheila. :-) Walking home, DB says how much he wishes that he had some sidewalk chalk. Literally THIRTY SECONDS after he said that, we find a box of it, completely full, on the boardwalk. We thank Sheila again. Her spirit is SO powerful. It always was. All I keep thinking is that I can't believe this horrible thing has happened...I feel like nothing is real...but I go back home to bed with Bloody Marys. Same result as sleep, just tears.

We watched Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (movie) on Netflix instant to try to kill some of the horrible day. Then it was time for sunset. I opened a bottle of wine that I had been keeping to have with Sheila when she came "home" to was bottled the year I met her at the winery where we met at a yoga retreat. DB and I took our cocktails down to the beach to watch the sunset of Sheila's last day. Our hearts were breaking.

Thank God for the Circle of Sheila Friends. By e-mails, we had a community to go through this with and it was a blessing. Sheila created this Circle for her...and for us.

I know (and I know she believed/believes this too) that her spirit lives on. In fact, I actually wrote her an e-mail on Sunday night (the day she died)...I needed to talk with her. It made me cry, but it made me feel better too.

We had a get-together last Thursday (7/15) night with some of her L.A. friends...a wake of sorts. Last week I edited the obituary that ran in the Woodstock (NY) paper and submitted it to the entertainment trades (she was in the business). On her birthday next week, several of us will go to her favorite Mexican. Finally, her NY friends will be sending us some of her ashes...they will sprinkle some in their ocean and we will in ours.

I miss her so much. I love her so much.


Vickie said...

so sad and so empowering a lot of levels - she was so well loved by so many people - she was 'under her own steam' right until the very end. So sorry for you loss - I can tell it was a very big one.

Helen said...

Very true. She had watched her younger sister die of breast cancer four years ago...Sheila took care of her the last two years of her life and I am sure she did not want to be a "burden" like that on anyone (she had no family left). She lived and died on her own terms, surrounded by love, support and her own spiritual beliefs. I am happy for her for that, but I am just so damn sad for's never the ones who die who are sad, it's the ones left behind. Sadly, we learned this young... :-(

Cindy...154 said...

Thank you for telling us the story. I am so sorry. I am glad you have the circle of friends to share it with. I have had some big grief and I know it is hard but you are surrounded by love. Happy Anniversary, too.

sharla said...

I'm so sorry Helen.

She sounds like a wonderful friend.