Ten years ago, just before Christmas, my friend Deb died. I was at work when her ex-husband called to tell me that she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. A few hours later he called to say that she had died.
It was a preventable death – at least if she had sought medical care it would have been. She thought that she had “just the flu” and, as a result, she stayed in bed and tried to drink fluids and, by the time her organs began to shut down and the ambulance was called, it was too late.
Her son Mike was 8.
Today would have been Deb’s 48th birthday – a number that seems ridiculous when applied to her. I can’t picture her as anything more than 38 and the idea of her nearing 50 years old seems insane. Despite being well-employed, owning a home, parenting her kid, and otherwise being ‘an adult’, she was one of the most young people I’ve ever known. She had the attitude of a 20 year old but none of the negatives of being that young.
There were a lot of things about Deb that drove me crazy – she was, just before she died, totally fixated on a guy who treated her like shit. She could be so incredibly flaky about things that I’d want to punch her.
And there were a lot of things about her that were amazingly perfect. She was one of the few people who could just drop in, completely at random, despite living an hour+ away. She made me laugh. She brought me cool gifts that she found during her adventures. She emailed me incessantly while I was working (thus allowing me to procrastinate). She was constantly peeling her clothes off and wandering around topless to annoy my elderly neighbour. And, it probably goes without saying, she was also one of the most accepting, open-minded people I’ve ever met.
She was an amazing, wonderful, incredible friend. She helped me through my divorce. She helped me keep Coffee in Canada. She helped me with living, generally speaking, when my Dad died.
After Deb died, I think I lost a lot of my ability to be friends with people. I am so much more hesitant to get close, to open up, to be myself. Being friends with Deb was so easy – it just.. happened. And it kept happening. I miss that. I miss friendships that are so easy. I miss her.