Friday, January 23, 2009

The Roughest of Days

Today has been a very hard day.

It started out far too early, waking up at 6 and feeling poorly, and then facing unpleasant weather (which only exacerbates my health problems). I drove to work and had a decent morning, my first two classes surprising me by coming fairly prepared and working really hard. I was feeling better when I went to lunch.

I rarely do this, but I got out my laptop while I was eating my sandwich in the union, and thought I'd check my email. I found an email from one of my old friends from my undergrad, asking if one of our mutual friends had passed away. She was asking based on comments being left on our friend's Facebook page.

Our friend Brooke, like her father and grandmother, had Marfan Syndrome - a genetic disorder that causes a whole host of problems, but can cause especially devastating troubles with the heart and circulatory system. Both Brooke and her dad had been suffering from aneurysms over the last five years. Her dad almost died from a heart aneurysm our freshman year of college, in 1999, and eventually passed away from another one this past year. Brooke herself almost died twice while attending seminary and working on her M.Div, and had told me that she had constant aneurysms and could die at any time if they didn't catch them in time.

I immediately looked at her facebook page and saw the messages that had alarmed our other friend, but was not able to do anything more because I had to go teach my third class of the day. On my way to class, I called my mom back East, knowing that she has been resting at home after pulling a muscle. I couldn't believe I was forming the words, but I asked her if she could get on the computer and see if she could find an obituary for Brooke in Kentucky, Tennessee, or Mississippi (the three states in which she had lived). I confess that I could have cared about teaching that next hour, but I focused on my students, and then as soon as I was out of the building again, I called Mom back.

She told me she had found what I feared. My dear, dear friend passed away yesterday after undergoing surgery for an aneurysm. Her surgery went well, but her one remaining kidney failed and she did not pull through. My dear friend, whom I love, joined her daddy last night.

Within 30 minutes, I had talked to both of my college roommates, gotten a call from my friend Bethany (who had gotten a call from Brooke's college roommate as well), and had contacted as many friends online as I could think of, sending them the funeral information Mom had found for me. Then I had to go sit in an hour-long meeting about the budget crisis and learn such depressing things like our department's budget comes 97% from state funds and other such stuff, so we are inordinately affected by any and all state cuts, etc..

I love you, Brooke. I will always think of you when I talk about Marfan's, when I speak in sign language, when I see anyone drinking from a bottle of Pepto Bismol, whenever I see any Heath Ledger movie, when watching Steel Magnolias, when admiring a beautiful painting (for your paintings were breathtaking), whenever I think of people who inspire me, and when think of friendship.

On the way home from work, I was struggling to not completely bawl. It was the first time that I had the chance to cry, other than when I sobbed in the bathroom before the meeting. As I was about ready to let loose, K pointed out a double rainbow in the sky. It was beautiful. For the entire ride home, I felt as if Brooke was with me. When I got home, I looked back at her FB page again, and saw one of her other friends' comments, which ended with the words, "You are my rainbow."

Yes, yes she is.

1 comment:

danseuse said...

Rachel, I'm so sorry! How tragic. And what a terrible way to learn. I'm pretty sure this was the kind of day that makes one want to crawl in bed all day. I'm really sorry for you and all the people who loved her so much.