Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a friend. An old friend. A good friend.
Her name was Amy Bettcher. She was 34 years old. Ovarian Cancer. She fought like a fucking trooper for a year.
In the last days, after hearing rumor upon rumor about how she was doing.. that she was still fighting, that the next round of chemo might work, that she was not going to make it after all, that maybe she was already gone?
I contacted her family. And I asked them if it would be ok, if they would be ok with it, if I took on the job of keeping in touch with her friends, to let them know what was happeneing. Because it seemed to me, that an event of such magnitude, that Amy's death and passing, should not be left commemorated to the local Portsmouth gossip mill. And because I thought I could handle it. I'd known Amy nearly ..no.. more than 17 years. But we rarely saw each other any more. We talked on the phone often, especially since she fell ill, but I hadn't seen her more than a few times since my wedding, almost 2 years ago. I'd tried, but each time we made a date, she was too sick, or more often, my kids were, and germs were verbotten.. I was close, but removed.
so, it seemed I was a good candidate for the job.
Her family agreed. I, and Jocelyn, and Amys sister in law Jess, started collecting email addresses. I talked to Jess, then I wrote a mass email. Every other day. It was only a little more than a week, but it seems like it was months.
I have two children, and have been through one marriage and started another. My eldest son nearly died of complications from Juvenile Diabetes when he was 6 years old. When I was pregnant with my now toddler, I was told that tests showed he may have a brain disorder, and either abort before being born, or in best case, he would live no more than weeks.
Between Dec 23 2010 and Dec 31 2010 my 64 year old father had a massive coronary, infections from surgery, a four way bypass, was in a coma for 3 weeks because of PTSD reactions to the anesthesia, spent 4 moths in the hospital and had a total of 8 surgeries. On Dec 23rd 2010, I hadn't spoken to my stepmother in 7 years.
But this. Amy's passing. The emails, and the phone calls. The conversations, the thoughts, the dreams, the emotions. This was harder. Harder than any of the other things I've gone through.
Because my sons are fine. The diabetes is under control. The brain scans were a lottery, and we won it. My dad survived his ordeal. My stepmother and I talk now, occasionally. I still have them, all, to talk to.
Amy was harder. I didn't get to say goodbye in person. I talked about her every day. I wrote emails to people I didn't know, or worse, to people I had known for years, and I told them all what I could. That Amy was safe. That she was in no pain. That she was at peace.
But in the end, of course, Amy died.
We used to run as a pack. Downtown Po-town. The Elvis Room Kids. We smoked cigarettes, and drank coffee, and worked odd jobs. We wore black, and got in to trouble. We took over the square, and made it home base in a game of tag that lasted years and had over 100 players. We were a family.
And we lost some of our own. Drugs. Suicide. Car wrecks. Sudden medical conditions.
This is the first time, for me, though, that the death of one of the Square Kids, has been forseen. That we had time to think, and to mourn, and to process. That we had to be adults about it.
At the funeral yesterday, sitting in the back of the church, between men and women I've known and loved for years, yards from the benches that were home base in that game of tag. that's when it hit me. We're adults.
There were many speakers at Amys funeral. Her uncle, her cousins, Andrea, who spoke from the heart, and Amy's brother Teddy, who spoke from the soul. I've known Teddy since before he could shave. I haven't known him much since then, though.
And then at the end, Jess, Teddys wife, stood to speak for the last time. She'd done so well, for weeks, and taken on so much. That last piece, though, got her. She started to loose it at the podium, to weep enough to affect her words.
Behind her, Teddy stood up. Her husband. Amy's little brother. He took two steps forward, and gently put one hand on his wife's shoulder. Jess didn't look around. She just took a deep breath, and finished her words.
I looked at this man, no longer the kid I knew, and I wept.