A Fond Farewell To A Friend
Tuesday morning I woke up to find a frantic voice mail from my best friend Jennifer asking me to call her back right away. It was obvious something really bad happened, so immediately I thought something had happened to her grandmother and my heart started to hurt. I wanted to put off calling until later because I'm not one to seek out bad news. If it can be put off until tomorrow you know I will. But my duties as a friend took priority so I lit a cigarette and waited for the bad news.
Jenn answered and when she told me her mother had died that morning it knocked the air out of me just as violent as if someone had punched me in the stomach. Cherri wasn't in good health, but she was only 52 years old, just a couple years older than my mom or Cain. It didn't feel real a week ago and it doesn't feel real now on the eve of the funeral either. I didn't know what to say to my best friend who had just lost her mom, I still don't. There are no words, only falsely pseudo comforting platitudes. I think "Oh my god" was probably what I managed to get out.
The cause of death is still unknown but the reason being offerer ed for now is something about a bleeding ulcer and she may have bled to death. I don't know. She had just had surgery on her hand due to a spider bite a couple days before among other health problems.No explanation feels right.
If you knew Cherri, which the majority of people who lived in the area I come from did, you knew she was a force to be reckoned with. Everybody knows Cheri.l Until recently she ran the Yamhill county division of the Oregon Food Bank, under the name YCAP , along with being an advocate for the GLBT community and for patients with HIV and AIDS. That was in addition to all the other work she did that I never knew about. She once made a big turkey dinner on her own and took it to the park for the homeless on Thanksgiving. That wasn't part of any organization, it was just something that she wanted to do.
I'm not trying to proclaim here as a saint, Cherri was all too human. She had her issues that she was struggling with just like the rest of us. But even as her health declined she stayed a strong woman. I mean no disrespect, but she could be one tough Bitch and you didn't want to stand in her way cuz she would more than likely run you down. Like her two daughters though, her tough outer shell was just a front to protect her from the truth of how sensitive she was. It feels weird writing about her in the past tense.
Wednesday and Thursday I went back home to McMinnville (only an hour from where I live in Portland for those who don't know) to just be there for Jenn and her family while they dealt with funeral arrangements and other family drama that couldn't have picked a worse time to flare up if it tired.
Until know, as I sit in front of the computer processing the last weeks events, I really haven't thought about how I feel. My job was to be strong for Jenn while I was there, and when I came home I let my brain stay in auto pilot mode.I knew Cherri for almost 17 years, when me, Jenn and Patty became friends in high school. She took me to my first and most important Gay Pride Parade back in '97 when I was coming out (with Ellen) and she briefly toyed with the idea of being a lesbian. (It didn't take. I don't think she could bring herself to eat out any more than I could, and she married her sixth husband soon after.) I loved her too, but it's easier to focus on the pain her daughters are going through than to feel any of my own.
I should have went to the viewing of the body yesterday, but I stayed home. That would have made it feel real, but I don't think I want it to be more real. Cherri and I are both Gemini's so I'm sure she would get that it's easier for me to imagine that shes going on about her business and I just keep miss running into her. She was definitely a Gemini. A chatty Kathy with a self destructive streak, who was forever late, and who could use words so skillfully either for the good of mankind or as the most destructive weapons, (verbal napalm).Yeah, I think we both understand a little of what It's like to live the Gemini way.
There's a lesson in here about not leaving things unresolved or something. For the next few months I will make sure I tell my Mom and everybody else that I love them before I say goodbye, but I know theres more to learn here then just that. But for the time being, I don't want to think too much about it. As far as my inner child is concerned Cherri is up to something and I'll be sure to hear about it before long. Some other time. Later.
here is Elliot Smith's Fond Farewell To A Friend...