It has begun. Football season. Football season is insane at our house because all three of my boys play flag football and we have season tickets to Florida State University games in Tallahassee. Oh yeah, and I have agreed that when FSU is playing an away game, I will make every effort to assure that Gary gets to watch the game on TV.
Luckily, I like football. But starting around the end of October, I start to get real tired of it.
The boys each have practice 2 days a week and games (usually) on Saturday mornings - EARLY Saturday mornings. Like sometimes we have to leave for games before we usually leave for school early - on a Saturday!
Luke and Jack are back on Coach Art's Buccaneer team. If you read my posts from last year in October or November, you'll see that I love Coach Art. He was like a hero to Luke last year. He made Luke love football. I really got to see the value and impact a coach can have on a kid's life. Good ones can change a kid's life. Bad ones can change it too, in a bad way. Just note Cole's sucky coach last year.
Cole is on the Saints team this year. We have yet to see what he will be like. Cole has had one practice, but he couldn't really participate because he is already injured!
Cole has irritated his Achilles tendon. Achilles Tendon's get angry when they just sit around playing video games all summer and are then expected to work during PE and football try-outs. I don't blame them. I get mad when that happens, too.
Anyway, this has led to Cole limping around everywhere and even a call from him exclaiming that he is in "the worst pain he has ever had."
Being the concerned mom, I quickly made an appointment with Dr. Goodlooking. It was at that appointment that my week took a sharp right turn on to Shit Avenue.
When Dr. Goodlooking entered our exam room, he told me that, Amanda, our mutual friend had passed away earlier that morning. I could do nothing but cover my face with my hands and sob. It wasn't a complete shock because Amanda had been sick for so long. I just didn't know that she was that bad.
Amanda and I became friends when we both joined the MOPS program at All Saints Church. At that time, we both had only one child and they were both about the same age. She had such a warm smile and a slow Mississippi drawl. I marveled when her second son was born because at that time, I just couldn't imagine having more than one.
Six months later she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer. We cried together then. Her babies were so young. SHE was so young.
She immediately had a difficult surgery and things looked good. Three months later she got the news that it was back. I totally lost it when she told me. She held ME while I cried.
Following that was more surgery and many rounds of chemo and experimental drugs. The news was good, then the news was bad. Amanda never faltered.
Every time I saw her she had that same warm smile. There was an incredible peace about her that she would easily tell you was God. Amanda was the type of person that made you feel good just being around her. She was somehow able to compliment you and build you up without you even noticing.
I started to feel like a user. She was always so much stronger than me. When we talked, she ended up comforting me. I always wanted it to be the other way around. I wanted to be her rock. But she had her rock. She had God and was completely convinced that God would heal her.
She started keeping news of her illness from me. I think it was because I cried. I think she knew that deep down I didn't believe that she would be healed.
Years passed. My family grew to 3 boys and my life went to insanity. We both moved to different churches and our kids to different schools. We kept in touch through voice mails and Christmas cards, both of us professing how much we missed each other and how much we loved each other.
Her Christmas cards showed smiling, healthy pictures with her family. Her new address told me that she and Derrick had finally built their dream home in Winter Park.
I thought of her often and told myself to call her. I didn't. I knew that she was still sick. I just didn't want to know how sick.
Apparently her cancer came back last year and this time, she knew it was going to win. I know that she was still peaceful and smiling because she knew that she was going home to be with God.
She told me once that when she first got sick, that all she wanted, all that she asked was that she live long enough to see her both of her boys in school. She lived four more years after that.
She fought so hard for so long. I'm glad she can finally rest.
She died at Hospice of the Comforter that is so close to my house. I pass it almost daily. I didn't even know she was there.
Amanda had so many friends. Everyone who met her loved her. I know that she did not die alone and friendless. If I had gone there, she would once again have been holding me while I cried.
I am smart enough not to regret our growing apart. There was no malice. We just went different directions. But oh God what I wouldn't do to hold her one more time - to smooth her hair and look into her peaceful eyes - hear her slow Southern accent. Please, just one more time! I put my head in the sand and squandered my chance.
I have spent the last week in a fog. So many memories have come flooding back. Thank God I saved all of those Christmas cards! Somewhere in all of my mess, I know that there are photos from play dates and parties. But for now, I carry of copy of this with me where ever I go. A note on a Christmas card
Oh Amanda, I love you, too! Rest in peace my friend.
Kal Barteski I am an artist of life. I create in paint, words, colours, letters and design. I am the principal designer at iDeaMonsters and the creator of LoveLife... all in chilly Winnipeg, Manitoba CANADA www.ideamonsters.com & www.love-life.ca