I knew all along that how I made it through what I'm doing right now had a whole lot to do with what happened in my life. If things stayed relatively even for this 6 weeks I'd have a lot easier time than if they didn't. If I had to work a lot of overtime I wouldn't do as well. If Dr. Mind had a day off it would be very, very hard. But I never anticipated what did happen.
I grew up in a small town in a very rural area. There were around 400 kids in my high school, including probably 100 that really went to the vocational school several towns away but were considered to have the same "home school". So, essentially there were 300 of us. There were 50-60 in the band. The cross country team had maybe 15 girls. Being in band messed up schedules, so band kids spent a lot of time together in various classes. And for some of us scheduling from about 5th grade on dictated we spent time together. That group was the tiny group of students in the gifted program. I think there were maybe 7 per class, although my 8th grade year there were only 5 of us. Not only did we have the 2 classes together that the program provided, we were constantly involved in projects as a team, and we also were encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities open to only certain kids. The way were had classes in junior high actually influenced our schedules in high school for at least the first 3 years. That meant that I knew the kids in the gifted program who were one year ahead of me essentially as well as my classmates.
There was one girl who I spent a ton of time with. She was also in band, cross country, track, and the gifted track. I believe we were in other extra-curriculars together as well. The common scheduling plus the sports and band meant we got to be friends. She was one of those very rare teenagers who is simply nice, not discriminating between popular and others (I was an other). She even went out of her way to help me fit in more, without being asked. I remember her teaching me how to peg my pants in gym class, and fixing my hair. I do not have any memories of her being mean to anyone. Which is rare in any high school, and in one so small I think it is more rare because the lines are so clearly drawn.
She was in the class ahead of me. I am pretty sure she was about 6 months older, if that. This morning she died of breast cancer. She'd fought it for many years, a huge part of her adult life.
I lost touch with her (with everyone) after graduation. I threw away my past the weekend I went to college and my friendships went with that. I knew she was sick and that it was very serious. And you'd think with what I do I'd not have been shocked to hear about it. But I've never had a friend die. Grandparents, acquaintances, many patients (including a few who I have truly loved), but one of the things that happens in such a small town is that there are fewer kids, so even though cancer still hits at whatever rate, it takes longer to have the thousand kids or whatever. It didn't happen when I was there.
And so it turns out that this is what it takes to make me cry. Really, really hard. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done to pull myself together to get to my 9 AM meeting on time.
This did however make me realize I've been expecting too much of myself. I've been trying to force myself to try to cover. Which has worked fairly well, but I'm noticing more changes now. (I'm now repeating "one-third weaned, one-third weaned" to myself a lot). So I talked to my co-workers, simply explaining I've had to come off an antidepressant I've been on for years to switch to a MAOI and that I may be kind of spacy, and that I was doing relatively well until this loss woke me up to how sad I really feel. So they know to please treat me normally, but to also not get mad if/when I forget things or have difficulties with simple things.
I just still cannot believe it. She's someone who I remember really loving life, really living life. And just 15 years later she's gone.