Maryanne and I met when we were 27 at our sons’ school. We had a lot in common: both single mums with a son and loved to play netball. We were inseparable from the get go and it turned into a beautiful friendship.
We loved to holiday together, or even do something simple like grab a coffee or go for a walk but no matter what, we had a blast. She was my rock when my ex-husband passed away a day before his birthday. She babysit my son and went above and beyond for me every single day. We could chat about anything and I could call her or drop around whenever I felt like. It was the most amazing friendship I’d ever had and it was perfect until the 2nd of July, 2013.
I got a call on my mobile about 7am from Maryanne. She wasn’t her usual chirpy self – she was worried. She told me to come around and take her to the doctor. I of course drove straight to her house around the corner and she raced out to me. She looked forlorn and I asked what was wrong. She said she had been vomiting blood for around 24 hours and was scared. She also confided in me that she had a stomach ache for about a month but just thought it was stress related (her son had a car accident – nothing serious). We went to the doctor and he said we needed to go straight to the hospital for x-rays.
We waited for a couple of hours to see the radiologist and by that stage, Maryanne had vomited another three times. I’d never seen her look that ill and it made me feel sick to my stomach. She was a beautiful, strong woman but seeing her cry and moan as I held her hair and gave her water as she threw up blood and bile was just the opposite of anything I’d known. The radiologist did the x-rays and conferred with another specialist before telling Maryanne the results would be passed onto her doctor. It was less than a day before the doctor rang to tell her to come in urgently. We knew it was bad and a frail Maryanne could hardly hide her nervousness. The doctor confirmed our worst fears: Maryanne had stomach cancer, stage 4. The chances of survival were low and she would need to start chemo immediately. The tumour was the size of a halved tennis ball. Maryanne didn’t cry, she didn’t speak. She just gazed at the floor and nodded. I asked, “Could we have known about this sooner?” but the doctor said that stomach cancer can go undiagnosed for years, only to be advanced when found.
We went home and we spoke about it in length. Maryanne knew she wanted to be positive about it and make the most of her life. She read up on stomach cancer and began chemotherapy. I was there at as many sessions as I could be. She never looked like that sad and forlorn woman again, she bounced back and although she was thin, she could still smile and be a role model for her son. Sadly, the chemotherapy wasn’t as effective as they hoped and Maryanne’s cancer had spread to her liver. She had a 5 per cent chance of surviving another 6 months.
And then, like a flash, she was gone. It wasn’t even a year after her diagnosis that we lost her. On the 27th June 2014, Heaven got another angel, my friend Maryanne. She was my soul mate and the one I turned to for everything. Even when she was weak and sick from her chemo, she would visit with flowers and listen to whatever I had to say. She didn’t want to talk about her cancer, she wanted to live. I had a beautiful friendship that I will cherish forever but I can’t deny the hole that has been left. I wake up every morning hoping to see her walking up the front steps and wish I could talk to her about how hard it is. But I can feel her giving me strength and love to carry on. I still have my son and hers and I need to be their mum too.
Losing your best friend is hard but you will get through it. I’m comforted by knowing one day we will see each other again up there.
Have you lost a special friend? How did you move on and find happiness again? Share your stories below.
The following article was posted by our friends at Starts At Sixty, an online community for active over 60s.