Treading Water (April 29, 2009)

It has been four days since I sat at my friend Bobby’s computer in Tel Aviv, Israel, chatting with Eddie on Skype at 3 AM. I was two hours away from leaving for Ben Gurion Airport to catch my flight back to Chicago via London. I was good naturedly giving Eddie the business for ordering a costly new computer in my absence, when Jen called Eddie’s cell phone, tearfully relaying the news that Jesika had passed.

Though I was in complete shock at the time, and had to endure a painful 24-hour trip home that I would not wish on my worst enemy, for some reason, I have only thought of Jesika more, rather than less with each passing day. Those of us who loved her have learned some information that accounts for Jesika’s really sudden expiration (aggressive small cell Stage 4 ovarian cancer), but there is just no explanation that will make these events seem fair, or soothe the ache of our hearts.

I expected the constant mental replay of all the special and hilarious moments we shared throughout the course of our 16-year friendship. I was ready to feel the anger, sadness and pain that accompanies the sudden absence of a loved one. But as I try to go about my day-to-day business, it is the little things that feel like they are crushing my heart into even smaller pieces. For example, while giving my house a thorough cleaning on Monday, I suddenly looked down at the dustbuster in my hand and lost it. This utensil, which I adore, was a wedding shower gift from Jesika to me back in the Fall of 2007. Of all the things I had listed in my registry, it was so like her to zero in and buy the one item that compliments my neat freak nature.

My last day at the ADA is next week, Friday the 8th. I sent out a little going away happy hour invitation for myself prior to leaving for Israel. I reviewed the invitation today for anyone I may have missed. Before I could catch myself, I remarked out loud that I had forgotten Jesika. There will be many tough days ahead, but I know for a fact that if she were still here and well, she would have indeed joined me for a last day drink. Because very few people were as supportive of my efforts to make myself a writer as she was, even if she complained about having to buy StreetWise.

I have lost loved ones before, but never a close, intimate friend, a contemporary who I firmly believed had a long, full and fabulous life ahead of her. Jesika was educated, funny, and immensely talented. I can’t get over the apparent waste of her death. I know there must be a silver lining somewhere, but God help me, I just can’t find it right now.

Jesika’s funeral is on Saturday. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for that first shocking image of her lifeless body lying in wait. Among many factors related to this situation, it seems so wrong that someone with so much joie de vivre pumping through her veins should be motionless and quiet. How? Why? And before all of us could say our final goodbyes? Granted, I wrote this post when Jesika first found out she was sick, lo these three weeks ago. I am forever glad I did, no matter how uncomfortable it made her. I know that she saw it, and I know she understood my love for her. I just wish I had time to say more.

Jesika’s brother Brandon called me the day before Jesika perished. He urged me to call him back ASAP, and that is a message I never received because my cell did not have international service. I am struggling very hard to overcome the intense guilt I feel over not having been with her and her family in the end.

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