One of the things I love about my support group, is that the women come from all different religious backgrounds.
We are all religious Jews, but that is where our common denominator ends.
One of the good friends I made in the group, Chanie Oysh, was from Chasidei Belz (I think).
She often called me once or twice a week to talk. I always enjoyed our conversations and felt enriched by her friendship.
We were both diagnosed with brain mets around the same time. But her situation was different. She had beens experiencing symptoms (slurred speech, difficulty moving her arm) for several weeks before her diagnosis.
Knowing what I know, from the questions I asked my oncologist about my own situation, I was scared for her.
Before I left for our trip, I called Chanie. I had not heard from her for a week or two (I'm not sure how long; I lose track of time), and I wanted to touch base before I left. Each time I called, her daughter told me she was resting. I did not manage to talk with Chanie before I left.
When I came back, I wanted to call her. Something told me I should check how she is doing before calling her home.
So, I called MT, another woman from our group. (I wanted to ask her for a ride to our meeting that night anyway.)
MT told me that Chanie would not be participating in our support group any more.
I did not understand her meaning.
Then she told me; Chanie passed away during the week before Chanukah.
At first, I was upset that nobody told me earlier. Then I realized that we were already out of the country, on vacation.
How could I have been surprised? I do not know; but I was.
I felt like I entered some surrealistic dream.
The last time I spoke with Chanie, she seemed much better. How could it be that this strong, powerful woman was gone?
I thought of our original group. Blimi, Esther, Yehudit, Tzippy, Pia, and now Chanie are all gone. Six out of ten. There are only four of us left: TK, MT, LE, and me. Can that be?
No. I almost forgot MC, from Dimona. She only participated in our first group; the commute (3 hours, by bus) was too difficult for her. We did meet up last year at Beit Natan's winter retreat.
The four of us have been together for over two years.
I love these women.
I do not want to lose any more of my friends.
(Thanks to Renee, from Circling My Head; Her post, about her friends from her original support group, and their passing, helped me confront my own feelings.)
Postscript: ....and then there were four....Following this post, a friend from the group called to let me know that Mazal Chaya, from Dimona, also passed away before Chanukah. There really are only four of us left....
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,