In lieu of my Sunday post, I wanted to tell you a story. So I have this friend. Her name is Kayla. And she is probably the most genuine, crazy, fun, loving person you would ever meet. She has been one of my best friends since I can remember, even though we have lived in different parts of the country for some time now. She is someone who I can go without seeing for a year, meet up with, and it is as if no time has passed. We have recently reconnected more than usual because of some loss, but she recently reached out to me because she has been writing 'notes', as she calls them. About a month or two ago, Kayla lost one of her best friends suddenly and tragically and has had to go through the experience alone and this breaks me at the core. I wanted to share with you one of Kayla's so-called notes. Sierra, 30 years old, was unexpectedly found unresponsive one day by her husband, leaving behind both him and their 11 month old baby. Although there was a history of influenza, pneumonia, etc, the investigation is ongoing to determine what ultimately caused her death. I don't think losing someone is ever easy. But this scenario scares the daylights out of me and has substantially changed people around me. Here is what Kayla had to say about her friend Sierra.
"I met you on craigslist. When I showed up to meet you and examine my new environment I was instantly greeted by your soul-latching laugh and your wet puppy... who is now snuggled on my couch almost 6 years later. You became not only my roommate but also my mentor and mother, and then inevitably one of my best friends. Nursing: you never understood it and
neither did I. But you supported me and always made sure I consumed “a protein,” in our brief meetings before I went to work night shift and you were getting home from lawyering. At one point when I was frustrated and overwhelmed during my first stint as a hospital nurse, you told me I could quit and just be responsible for walking our dogs and making sure we had an assortment of Trader Joe’s chocolates in the freezer. I knew you were being serious.
I would by lying if I said the last 30 days haven’t changed me. I lost someone I loved that had a whole life ahead of her. As an ER nurse- I see it all the time. Unfortunate circumstances appear almost every day and the most I have mustered in my mind was, “that sucks ass.”
I’m lucky as hell- I text my grandparents (all 4 who are alive.) I have always felt like I was an empathetic person, despite the jaded and sometimes emotionally hollow person I am in the ER and being “lucky,” has shaped me into. When friends/family or patients lose someone they love- I think about them, their feelings; if they are sleeping/eating; if they feel like they will ever be happy again.
In the blink of an eye I became someone I have looked at through empathetic eyes. The pain started in the depths of my being and will always be there. In my profession you have to be closed down and disassociated to some extent... or you simply wouldn’t survive.
Surviving has a whole new meaning to me now. It’s no longer people who survive the car accident driving to swim practice, surviving the devastating blood clot that paralyzed the right side of a body after traveling the world for a 30th wedding anniversary, surviving the flu-which can be a lot to ask. Surviving to me now looks like this: Knowing you or your daughter's birthday is approaching, looking through our many emails and text messages wanting to respond so badly I choke, grasping for the air that no longer is in my lungs, going to work and caring for people who continue to abuse their bodies daily and think of how you couldn’t leave the house without your tea and multivitamin. Surviving now is holding Z butt tight for you.
My life has changed because you were in it; I will continue to learn from you and promise to be graceful when I look at life. ❤️"
- Kayla Johnson
The title of this post was created by Kayla. It is one of her standard sayings. Most of the time she says it with shrugged shoulders and continues about her day. This time I think she means it. Sometimes people affect us in ways we can not explain and no matter what happens, they are always a part of us. Be strong, my love, and walk forward.