Sunday, July 6, 2008

Letting the Ugliness Show

Today, I found out that a friend from the past, passed away yesterday. Her story is a tragic one. Just a little over a year ago, she found out that she had irritable breast cancer. She had just gotten remarried and had given birth to a newborn son only weeks before finding out. She thought it was a breast infection but it wasn't... it was worse. She left six children behind but in her usual fashion, managed to make sure their education was provided for... one at a prestigious private school on full scholarship, one at a charter school, two others at a different private school and her oldest at a very well known and well-respected engineering college. It was her tenacity at being able to procure full scholarships, gift and donations even before having cancer that probably wore most on our friendship. She was the type of parent who bragged constantly about her children and who also knew the right words to say to get what she wanted even if there were others who might be in more dire need of those gifts and services. And, here is where the ugliness from me sets in. I liked her but I didn't like her. We both had large families and started at a very early age. I was jealous of the opportunities she was given. But, I did not want to be like her. Every conversation focused on her.

I thought of her today and googled her blog to find out that she passed away yesterday. I had known about her cancer and talked to her once since her being diagnosed but did not make the trip to see her in person. I feel guilty. I spent the last hour reading some of her last entries and have wept for her family. The loss they must be feeling and will continue to feel. Her new husband left to tend for a young son and her other five children with the help of her ex-husband. I walked away from the computer. I thought and cried and thought. And, I cannot justify not going to see her. At the same time, though, the gloss from her death... you know, that gloss that makes the deceased seem untouchable and like a saint, has dissipated slightly. While reading her blog she made a comment about how she used to judge parents for not doing a particular thing for their children, that she did herself. In that comment, the gloss disapated. I am sure this past year changed her immensely. But, there was a reason our friendship faded away.

The truth is that I am a liar and faulted human being, too. Many times, I don't do what I say I am going to do, whether it be from forgetfulness or selfishness or some other imperfection. Perhaps in her death, I can value that which was lovable about her and let go of that which was imperfect.

And, perhaps you will still love me despite my imperfections.