Goodbyes Hurt The Most, When The Story Was Not Finished

This is going to be a different post than I usually do, but the only way I know how to get out how I am feeling is through writing.

I’ve had a rough few days, but all that pales in comparison to what happened Saturday evening.  None of that matters anymore.  Honestly, I’m feeling like not much matters right now.  I feel so lost.  I don’t understand life.  I don’t understand anything.

My Mom & Rachel

I’m going to tell you a story about my mother and her best friend, Rachel.  They called each other “Pea In The Pod”.  They did everything together.  They went on trips together, they went to the pool, they went on crazy adventures, they played board games, and every night they’d talk on Skype and eat dinner and dessert together.  Those two were the best of friends.  Exactly what best friends should be.  And although they only knew each other for six years, they lived a lifetime in those six years.  I had never seen my mother so happy.  They were a wonderful six years for my mom and for that I am forever grateful.  Rachel was the best friend she could have ever had.

Back in June Rachel got very sick.  My mother of course was by her side in the hospital.  Rachel was even in a coma for a few days.  No one knew what was going on, but we were all praying for a miracle.  And a miracle happened.  Rachel woke up and she recovered, and although now she was on medication for the seizures she was suddenly experiencing, she was fine.  My mother and her made it a point to take the summer and have as much fun as they could.  They spent the entire summer together, and had a wonderful time.  Rachel would go to doctor appointments in-between, and everything was fine.  Everything seemed like it would be ok.

Saturday Rachel, who lives in the city, came to visit my mom.  Even though I wasn’t feeling well, I pushed myself to get out and have breakfast with the two of them.  And then we checked out the new “resort” in town.  Rachel was having a great time.  She was happy to see me.  And her and my mom were making future plans.  They were looking forward to their vacation in February to Disney to celebrate their 60th birthday together.  They were talking about where they were going to stay.  And at the “resort” in town they were making plans of staying there and as we viewed the new hotel, they were picking out their rooms.  The future was theirs to grab and nothing was going to stop them.

After I spent the morning with them I went home.  My husband had to work later that afternoon, and we had some errands we had to run for the week.  My mom and Rachel wanted me to join them for lunch but because my husband and I had things we had to do, I told them that I would join them next time.

My mom and Rachel spent the rest of Saturday together.  Saturday late afternoon my mom and Rachel caught a bus back to the city and my mom was going to spend Sunday there with Rachel going to a craft fair.  I spoke to my mom when they got to the city and everything was fine.  I was telling her and Rachel on the phone about an excellent Mexican restaurant I was going to take them both to next time Rachel came up for lunch.

About a half hour later my phone rang and I answered it.  My mom started talking to me urgently on the phone.  I kept saying “What’s going on?”  I couldn’t grasp what she was telling me.  I had literally just seen Rachel.  She was healthy, happy, full of life.  Apparently my mom and Rachel decided to go out for dinner to a pizza shop.  They got to the pizza shop, ordered, their food came, and then Rachel had a seizure.  911 was called and she was transported to the hospital, my mom relaying all relevant information about medications Rachel is on and her medical history.

A little while later I called my mom to check up and see how Rachel was because she was unconscious when she was transported to the hospital.  My mom told me Rachel regained consciousness and seemed ok, that the doctors were checking her out.  My mom gave Rachel the phone, “Hi Joanie!” she said to me.  She sounded so happy, so full of life, just like always.  I felt such relief knowing she was would be ok.

A little while later I called my mom again just for any updates.  She told me that it was really bad.  Shortly after I last spoke to Rachel on the phone, she had another seizure.  The testing the doctors did showed there was severe hemorrhaging in her brain and they were arranging emergency transport to another hospital.  Rachel was unresponsive.  My mom told me that the hospital didn’t even know if she would survive the trip to the next hospital.  I became hysterical.  I just saw Rachel.  I just spoke to her.  How could this be happening?  I don’t understand!

It got worse as the night went on.  Rachel survived the trip, but the doctors gave devastating news.  There was no hope.  There was no brain function.  Rachel was gone.  Her body was there, hooked up to machines, but Rachel herself was gone.  My heart was breaking for Rachel and for my mom.  I still can’t grasp this as I sit here and write it.

I was a mess yesterday.  I couldn’t function.  I couldn’t concentrate.  Images of Saturday kept playing through my head.  Rachel’s voice the last time I spoke to her, “Hi Joanie!” kept playing on endless loop through my brain.  How could someone so full of life so suddenly be gone?  Why did this happen?  What was my mom going to do without Rachel?

My mom came home by cab yesterday.  She said that there was nothing else she could do.  She was there for Rachel in the hospital and Rachel knew she was there.  She said she had to come home.

We sat and talked yesterday about Rachel, remembering her.  My mom told stories and laughed as tears fell from both of our eyes.  Her and Rachel liked to collect silly things.  Their latest obsession was these little keychains.  My mom took them out of her bag and laid them on the table showing me their newest one, a unicorn.  And then she looked at me, “What do you do when the silliness ends?”  It broke my heart.  But, I saw that my mom would be ok and that made me feel better.

I can sleep.  I don’t feel when I sleep.  But I can’t stay asleep forever, and once you wake up, everything comes shooting back to you.  I don’t want to eat.  I don’t understand life or the finality of death.  I have a problem with that.  I don’t understand why tragic things have to happen to good people.  My heart is broken and aching.  I don’t understand the cycle of life.

My husband is Catholic.  I am Jewish.  He said that one of the first things you are taught in the Catholic religion is not to look at death as a bad thing, but instead to look at death as a celebration of one’s life and know that God needed that person for whatever the reason.  That we should never question God’s plan.  That although we might not understand it, God has a plan for all of us.  He said that maybe it was Rachel’s time back in June, but God knew how devastating that would be to my mother, so he performed a miracle and gave them one last glorious summer together.  And I’m taking comfort in that.

They did have a good summer together.  Rachel’s last few months were filled with happiness and adventures.  My mom told me that Rachel made the phrase “Life Is Good” her motto after June.  And that’s how they were living life these past few months.

I think everyone should have that once-in-a-lifetime friendship with someone whose presence changes your life forever.  I’m glad my mom had Rachel.

Rachel & My Mom At Block Island, RI – August 2017


  1. I’m so sorry Joan – thinking of you and sending you lots of love. Justin’s outlook is comforting and I hope it gives you a little bit of peace; as much as you can have in a time like this. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kara. Justin’s words are helping me. It’s just been hard all around. And because Rachel has no family, until the legal end of it is straightened out and until it is figured out who legally can make decisions on her behalf, she is still hooked up to life support machines. But I know that although her body is technically there, she is gone based on what the doctor’s said. So it’s a really tough situation.


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