A new angel

October 22nd, 2014

Today started out like most days. The sun had risen just high enough to peep through my bedroom window and break me away from sleep. I half-sat, half-rolled out of bed and groaned a little in the process. Took one look at myself in the mirror and decided I would need breakfast first before tackling the ungodly sight I was.

Bacon and eggs seemed a little advantageous at that hour of the morning, so I settled for muesli and yoghurt instead. My Mr and I watched a little Sunrise from the kitchen bench, but because I happen to be dating the attention span equivalent to a seven-year-old, the channel swiftly changed to Ben-10 when I apparently wasn’t looking. Yes, it was certainly a morning like any other. Until it wasn’t.

The first text came through at roughly 9.30am.

You might remember a few posts back where I talked about a close friend of mine who was battling Cystic Fibrosis. She was facing the possibility of a double lung transplant at the time, and a few days after that post was published she received a call that changed it all. It was the morning of her twenty-fifth birthday when the hospital rung with the promise of new lungs. We all held our breath for hours on end until the news came through that the transplant was successful. We were thrilled. And she was given a new lease on life.

She went from strength to strength, recovering more quickly than the doctors could have expected or anticipated. She had this enduring resilience that rose far beyond any complication, and such a zest for life that it was addictive to be in her company. In just ten weeks, she had made the recovery of a lifetime.

We were all so busy being amazed that when the CT results at the end of the tenth week came back with cause for concern, we all felt a little like the picture perfect walls that encased us suddenly collapsed without warning. They had found a black spot on her right lung. The bacteria was back.

Up until today she spent eight long weeks in hospital. At first they had hope of simply removing the lower lobe of her right lung, but soon found the bacteria had spread necessitating the removal of the middle lobe as well. The antibiotics were fed through her veins in full succession, like an army crossing no-man’s land into battle. It was a war waged against her, but no matter how her body began to weaken she continued to fight with a strength unparalleled and with a heart determined to beat the odds. We cheered her on, rallied with her, poured love and encouragement her way.

And then there was no more they could do. The devastating news rung through like a deafening noise silencing us all, and we clung to hope because as humans I guess that’s all we know how to do in times like that.

The text sent through at 9.30am, was from her mother-in-law. She had explained that my friend would be coming home at 1pm and they were hoping that as a nurse, I would come look after her in her final days. I didn’t have to think, the answer was already decided. Of course I would.

I became a nurse to make a difference. And I have often battled with the reality that sometimes it isn’t possible to save everyone, and I couldn’t save my friend. But what I could do, was simply be there. I could hold her hand, I could be present, I could care.

But, I never got the chance to.

I waited for her to arrive home. I had decided to bide time by waiting at the café down by the beach where my Mr works at, not sure of when I would be needed. Desperate to do something useful, I bought a glass jar and filled it with sand, shells and a small glass bottle which held a hand written note. I made her her own a beach in a jar, because the beach has always been her favourite place in this world, and if she couldn’t be near it now, I figured I could bring it to her.

But, I never got the chance to.

The second text came through at 3.28pm – I know because in this moment exactly, my whole world changed.

I lost one of my best friends today and the ache in my heart is unrelenting. I feel like the world has gone quiet, I feel the loss in every breath, in every pulse through my veins. My eyes are sore, and yet I can’t close them long enough to find peace in sleep. I feel lost. My body still rhythmically moves as if it has been placed into automatic drive, but my mind feels distant.

I can’t explain it the way I would like, but it feels surreal. And I can’t quite fathom how she could be so alive in one moment, and gone in the next. I struggle with the reality that I will never see her again. We can’t hug or laugh, or gang up on the boys on date night anymore. My world is suddenly a very different place.

There are no words that dull the ache or brokenness. She’s not here, and there is nothing that can change that. The concept is so new, and so foreign that at times it doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel possible, and yet it is.

Im not sure what it is that I do next. and I can’t help but feel a whole new kind of heartbreak for her family and hubby of less than a year who will be undoubtedly experiencing a greater loss than I feel at this time.

It’s not going to be an easy journey, and I don’t know how long its going to take before that lump in the back of our throats lessens, and the ache in our chest becomes tolerable – but I do know that my beautiful friend is in better hands and flying safely with the angels now, and I hope one day soon we can find comfort knowing the pain of her illness no longer constricts her.

I feel so very privileged for having known her, and there aren’t enough words to express how very much I will miss her. My life is forever changed by her strength, and my world will always be a little brighter because she was in it.

Rest in peace KB.

d x


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