Man, I'm tired.
That new CD clock radio? Doesn't so much wake me up as provide me with a musical score to sleep to. Usually, I don't need the clock to wake me up except on Mondays, when I wake up at 6am. Until now, it was a radio set to a station I don't like, accompanied by a loud, blaring alarm noise. This morning, it was my Suzanne Vega CD, which I thought would wake me up gently, but instead just lulled me into staying in bed for a good fifteen minutes later than I normally would.
It was a rush to get ready and out the door. I wanted to be to work by 7am, so that I could take off at 5pm. (I got in 12 hours by shifting 1 extra hour of billable work from yesterday and taking my lunch at the end of the shift.) Laurie and I were invited to our friends Steve and Val's house for an evening of dinner, Hearts, and some tv watching.
I did get to work in time, and there was something already waiting on the fax machine for me to do. Work was pretty steady, not the craziness of the weekend, thank the gods. I got to do a lot of different types of projects, including some Illustrator work, which I haven't gotten a lot of exposure to, since we have two experts in Illustrator on-staff, but one was busy and the other hadn't come in yet, so I got to create an original graphic, which was pretty cool. I love Illustrator for that sort of thing. Cutting up and merging shapes is a lot of fun.
Dan and I had a meeting today about a progress report regarding my goals list for 2005. I'm making a lot of progress in all my projects, and Dan seems fairly impressed. We got into an argument about working from home (I think everyone should have the option to work from home at least one day a week, he doesn't think that we should work from home unless there's no way of getting into the office. I think that's kind of unfair, making it convenient for him, but not really giving us some of the perks associated with the ability to work from home. We kind of agreed to put the issue on the back-burner until the manager's meeting sometime next week. I think I have the support of the other supervisors on this one, so we may be able to gang up on him.
Usually when I'm writing my updates, I stop to check my e-mail in-between sections, just to get my mind ready for the next thing I'm going to write.
I got an e-mail from Mom with no subject line, so I knew something was wrong. Her friend Sheila, a woman she's known since high school and is part of a group of friends that call themselves "Klub" died last night.
Klub has been an essential part of my mother's life since she left high school. A group of seven women, all of whom graduated together, decided that they would get together every month, no matter what the circumstances. And they have, for more than 40 years. The women of Klub have attended each others' weddings, showers, baby arrivals, family funerals, and other major events.
Klub would meet one month at someone's home, and the next month out at a restaurant. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of Mom making cream puffs for the ladies of Klub, and setting up the bowls of chips and dip and other snacks for them. The boys would be sent up to bed (Dad would go out on Klub nights) and we could hear these women downstairs, chatting and laughing and having a great time.
For every wedding shower for one of their kids, Klub would buy a vacuum cleaner. It was a tradition. They would always sit at the "Klub table" at weddings. I know what every woman at Klub likes to drink, because the bottles would be lined up on the counter the night it was Mom's turn to play hostess.
When Dad died, it was Klub that helped her through her unimaginable depression. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, they once again came through for her. They are a part of her life as much as any family member could ever be.
Seven funny, intelligent, kind-hearted women, all there for each other. Friends for decades. I hope I'm lucky enough to have friends like that when I reach Mom's age.
Sheila was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little over a year ago. She went through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, but nothing seemed to shrink the tumors. They spread throughout her system, and eventually she said "enough" to the treatments and let nature take its course. She was set up with people in hospice, who helped her manage the pain that was associated with the disease. As of a couple of months ago, she was on Oxycontin and Methadone to just relieve the pain, something she hated to be on, because both drugs made her sleepy. She lowered the doses so that she could be more lucid, and spend what time she had left with her family and friends.
Last week, Mom got a call from Sheila's daughter, saying that Sheila had lost the ability to walk, and was largely incoherent for long periods of time. They knew that it was just a waiting game at that point, and Mom said, "God help me, but I hope it's quick."
At least it was that.
Sadly enough, a second member of Klub was diagnosed with cancer just a few months back. Bonnie is undergoing such intense radiation that she's not allowed to leave her house, since her immune system is shot. The wake for Sheila is on Wednesday, and Bonnie won't be able to say goodbye to one of her oldest friends.
Mom will be able to go, but I'm sure that's cold comfort for her.
Seven women, meeting every month for over forty years. Now there are six. By the end of the year, gods forbid, it might be down to five.
Death is an essential part of life, but damnit, it's a miserable, horrible part of life.
I have to make sure to wake up before Mom goes to work tomorrow, just to give her a hug and say how sorry I am.
Goodnight, Sheila. I hope you're resting comfortably.