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A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room.  We meet every Monday evening.  Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are 'mourning' is still alive (pre-grief can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you.  Share whatever you need to share.  We can't solve each others' problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
At the end of January, both my husband and I lost dear friends.  How we dealt with this loss both together and individually, plus the different ways the families handled these tragedies, is the topic of my diary.

Andy had been one of my husband's best friends for over 25 years.  While I  did not seek out Andy's wife, Jennifer, on my own, we did get together often as couples.  We were boating buddies, had BBQ's on the beach and backyard parties.

But Andy and my husband were very close.  

When he was diagnosed with cancer eight months ago, we all had faith that he would survive.  After all, cancer is not the automatic death sentence it used to be.  He went for all the treatments and by Christmas, we thought he had it beat.  Jennifer even told me she was going to have a small dinner party to celebrate.

Around January 6th, Andy was back in the hospital.  My husband was there, visiting him every chance he had.  Then he came home.  Then he was back in the hospital.

My husband, Bobby, was confused and couldn't answer any of my questions and I felt weird asking Jennifer.  What was the problem?  Why all of a sudden he's sick again?

Andy couldn't have visitors because he had no immune system and could become very ill just being exposed to the common cold.  So nightly Bobby would call and they would talk for hours.  At the end of one phone call, my husband turned to me and said, "He said he's done."

Andy went home under hospice care on the 21st of January and died on the 23rd.

He fought a good fight, but in the end his body couldn't take it anymore.

His wake and funeral, while sad, was filled with people sharing funny stories, laughing and joking about the time Andy did this...or Andy did that.  It was so beautiful and uplifting.  At one point, a clergy member asked us all to applaud Andy's life, and we did through tears.

My husband is getting better now, but for awhile he was lost in his grief.  He kept saying, "But he was getting better.  Everything was going to be OK"  Putting together a picture collage helped a lot, we laughed and remembered good times on the boat, the time we got stuck, and how Andy dived into two feet of water to save us.  What a hero!

Andy- you will be missed.

And then, the day after we attended Andy's funeral, I got a phone call.  

Natalie, the first friend I made who did not have kids the same age as mine.  My first real 'adult' friend, died in her sleep.  I hadn't spoken to her since before Christmas and to say I was devastated is an understatement.

But this time, at her wake and funeral, the mood was very solemn and quiet.  Natalie had two sisters, whom I had met over the years at family parties, two daughters who called me Aunt Carol and an ex.  There was nobody there to share my grief with.  Bobby was still reeling from Andy's death, and the daughters were so wrapped up in their own grief they hardy recognized me.

I can't help feeling I let her down.  She should have 'gone out' the way Andy did- full of love and laughter and fun memories.  She was such a funny person.  Everything was a joke to her.  She found humor even in the saddest experiences.  

I feel bad that I let even a few months go by without talking.  But we get caught up in our lives and the time just flies.

But not anymore.  Old friends have been surprised by my calls, invites to lunch or just get-togethers.

Life is indeed way to short.  I've taken to calling people as soon as they pop into my head.  "Thinking about you...just wanted you to know"

Because you just never know when that person will not be there to answer the call.

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