Today has been really, really hard.
This morning, right before I started running my errands, my boss called me and asked if I could possibly work this morning instead of this evening. I had a doctor's appointment this morning, though, so I wasn't able to make the switch. He was calling because my coworker Laura had called out because she and her husband were taking their daughter Jessica to the emergency room. This was not a good sign- I mean, it's never great when someone goes to the emergency room, but Jessica has had health problems all her life, and has almost died more than once since I've been working at the library. When Jessica gets sick, her parents wouldn't take her to the doctor because there's really nothing they could do. It's just the way things are. And I figured that a hospital stay might be coming soon because Laura told me last Thursday she didn't sleep the night before because Jessica was coughing so much. Fluid builds up around her heart, among other things, and that lead to the coughing and everything.
This afternoon, after I had my appointment and ran my errands, I came home and got frustrated after a phone conversation with my husband. When I hung up, I had a new text message from my best friend Jess, who works at the library with me. She said that she wanted me to know before I came to work that Jessica, Laura's daughter, was in the ICU and they had signed papers to let her go if things got bad. I called my mom at work and asked her to be praying, for Laura and her family, and also for me because I was just starting to feel so upset. I took the garbage out, came back in the house, and there was another text saying that Jessica had passed away. And then I cried for the next 35 minutes.
In all the time I have known Laura (which is a very long time), I have been aware of Jessica. I have met her on several occasions, like at staff parties and on the rare day that she would come to work with her mom and hang out in her office in her wheelchair (Jessica didn't really speak many discernable words, but oh my goodness, that girl loved to laugh!) And she was always happy to see everyone. She loved animals and was the most tender-hearted person to ever live on this planet. Her mom never got to watch the news because the bad news in the world moved Jessica so much, it upset her really badly. And Jessica had kind of a sixth sense about animals. I remember one time Laura told me that they had taken one of their cats to the vet, and there were some kittens up for adoption. Jessica checked them out and started crying. Laura told the person working behind the desk that she knew one of those kittens must have had a sad story, and the staff member, very surprised, said yes, that one of the siblings out of the litter had died. When one of us would lose a pet or a loved one, Jessica would send an email saying that she knew that that person or pet was OK and happy and safe now. I think that maybe God gave her the ability to see and notice things the rest of us don't have, to make up for those abilities she lacked but we take for granted, like walking and talking and living a normal life.
All the other times Jessica has been sick since I've been working with her mom (the better part of a decade now), she has hung on by a thread and then rallied. There have been at least two occasions I can remember when we all thought she would pass at any time, and her mom said that Jessica didn't want to die in a hospital and she would carry her out of there herself so she could be at home. And that didn't happen. I'm having a hard time processing it. I guess I took it for granted that this very strong young woman, who has defied all odds and completely destroyed all the expectations doctors have ever had of her, is gone. I am so sad for her family. I am shocked that this all happened so quickly. And I know it sounds cliche, but I do think that the world got a little darker this afternoon. It had to. Jessica was such a bright, happy force for good. And now she's gone.
Anyway, we've been dealing with that this afternoon, and Jess and I just tried to get through the evening without collapsing into puddles of tears by talking about lots of random things while doing our jobs. While we fielded a few phone calls about what had happened, we learned that another coworker, my friend Linda, has cancer. Linda is my grandparents' age and is healthy as a horse. Probably more so. She is a vegetarian and walks to and from work every day. She does yoga and is just very zen about life. She has had some hard times but I have never seen her really rattled. And she still isn't rattled. But finding out that she has cancer is scary. The prognosis is really good, and Linda herself has a really zen attitude about it (I keep using that word....I should explain that Linda is a very peaceful person who, when she feels like she might have a stressful or upset day, recites Psalms from the Bible, Buddhist verse, and I don't know what else to herself on the way to work.) But still. This day was HARD. And there will be a lot more crying to come.
I'm writing all this to ask you if you will please pray for my friends. Pray for Linda as she begins this fight against a stupid disease that really should go away and be wiped out by now. Pray for Laura and her family as they deal with this unimaginably sad event. Yes, it was unlikely that Jessica would live to be an old lady. But knowing that it would happen someday doesn't mean it's still not hard to process and deal with. It doesn't make mourning any easier. Grief is hard, and it hurts. And I think that's all I have to say for tonight. I promise I'll be back tomorrow with some happy news, but I'm done for this evening. I'm turning off my computer and heading downstairs to do some praying and some crying and some processing.