August 19th: My Dark Day.

7:00 AM

Last time we were all together: July 2013.
I typically don’t remember days. I remember significant events but not full days. I remember this particular day like it was yesterday, August 19, 2013. I think I will remember it for the rest of my life. It was a Monday. I was off from work. My day was spent cleaning my apartment, grocery shopping, and getting ready for fall semester at CIU. I remember distinctly driving in my car and saying out loud, “I’m really happy.” This may not seem like a big deal, but it had been a long time since I had uttered those words. While perusing the aisles of Target, I got the first of two phone calls that would shake my entire world. 

Through tears, I hear Claire say, “Cynthia, I’m headed to the hospital. Catherine’s in the ER. She’s coded twice.” I’m sorry, what? Is this a joke? I mean, I knew she had been battling a UTI and feeling pretty crappy since before her birthday. What do you mean she coded? She’s not that sick. I just talked to her yesterday. 

The next few minutes were a daze. I left Target and drove myself home somehow, trying not to panic, praying fervently and trying to send Catherine telepathic messages to hold on, to fight. Sitting on my front porch, I got the second call, the one where my heart literally dropped to my stomach and I no longer felt like I could breathe. Claire only said one sentence, “She didn’t make it.” 

It’s been one year and yet, I still feel like Catherine’s death isn’t real. I have entered in and out of almost every stage of grief, and I still haven’t hit resolution. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever even written about it. Truth be told, it’s hard to put mine and Catherine’s friendship into words. It was unlike any other. She was my family. There were things I shared with her that I couldn’t share with anyone else. She had this non-judgmental way about her. She loved deeply. Once you earned her friendship, there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for you. She would do crazy, spontaneous things with me, like road trips without much planning and drives to nowhere in particular just to talk. She watched Christmas movies with me while I decorated my tree, attended every one of my crazy birthday extravaganzas, and slept on my floor on nights when she didn’t want to stay by herself. Although she never really wanted to move far away from home, she was one of the bravest people I knew. She never compromised who she was was or pretended to be someone she wasn’t. She loved to have fun and some of my favorite memories are laughing uncontrollably with her and her sister, Claire for hours at a time. 

I’ve hated every single moment of this past year without her, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it for those sacred moments we spent together in our 20+ years of friendship. I’m the luckiest because I got to be a part of Catherine’s life on this side of Heaven and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will forever miss you, Cat-Cat! Thank you for loving me unconditionally, for tolerating my Mariah Carey sing-a-longs, and for being one of my biggest cheerleaders.

There's only now; there's only here. Give in to love or live in fear. No other path, no other way, no day but today.

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