Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Sad Story



The year was 1979.
I had just moved back to Texas from Venice Beach in California.
I rented an apartment in a beat up 4-plex near the college I was attending. My neighbor across the hall was named Wanda, a hairdresser with a ravenous taste for pretty young women.
After several months of non-stop dating (for both of us), Wanda met Mary Jane and fell in love. Wanda was 27 and Mary Jane was just finishing high school, but neither cared.
Mary Jane was really cute. She wore dark, spiky hair and she was model thin. She has a sweet disposition and the charm of the country girl she was.
They broke up not too long after they got together, probably because of the age difference, but also because Wanda was a fickle dog who ran through women like a crackhead runs through rock.
Within a year, we all moved from the 4-plex because it had been sold and was being torn down.
Time has worn on and I've stopped going to bars and most huge lesbian parties.
I lost touch with both of them, but I still remembered Mary Jane fondly, and was thrilled to hear 15 years ago that she was living with my good friend Melissa, someone whose character was sterling and heart was big.
They are still together.
Last week, I got a very cryptic birthday party invitation in the mail from Mary Jane.
In it was a long note explaining that she was celebrating her 50th birthday as a memorial, since her health had gotten bad and she wasn't sure there'd be a 51st birthday. Of course I went to the gathering last Sunday, and I was shocked to see Mary Jane.
She was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank, and three times the size she was when I last saw her. Though she could barely speak between oxygen gasps, she held out her arms to me and said how excited she was to see me.
After the event, I drove home feeling sad and shocked.
She's got emphysema, congestive heart failure and diabetes caused by too many steroids used to treat the other complications.
If she lasts another month, it'll be a miracle.
I've seen so much death in my lifetime. One year I attended 16 funerals caused by AIDS.
My parents are dead. My husband is dead. My last boyfriend is dead. A lot of my old friends have died.
And now it looks like another old friend, only 50-years-old, will be dead soon.
It's sad, but it's really not.
Death is just part of the circle of life, and I have learned through reading dozens of books on the subject that it's good on the other side. It's really good.
And our souls do live on.
Lately, I've been fighting situational depression.
My expectations are inversely proportional to my serenity, and I let myself forget that for too many weeks.
Mary Jane's situation reminded me that health, freedom to move about, and love are the things that bring true joy.
I've got all three, so I have nothing to bitch about.
If you pray, please pray for the soaring of Mary Jane's soul...whenever her time comes. Thanks.

6 comments:

nonnie9999 said...

zippy, i don't know what to say, so i'll just send you a hug and leave it at that.

bigsis said...

I remember Mary Jane being a high stepping country girl. She looked like a very young Joan Jett carrying a fishing pole.
On a positive note, I'm just happy to know that Mary Jane has been with such a wonderful partner/wife all these years who has, and always will, love her unconditionally. Some people live to be 100 and never find that in their lives.

Matty Boy said...

Sorry your friend's time is near the end. I send my best wishes from here in California.

KarenZipdrive said...

Thanks, you guys.
I really hope there's time for me to see her at least one last time without 100 other people around.
I've offered to keep an eye on Mary Jane when Melissa's at work, but I'm not sure people ever believe offers like that are sincere.

Fran said...

Oh Karen, my prayers are unending here.

Iain said...

So sorry to hear of your friend's sickness and your own sadness, Karen. More hugs from here.