I’ve never experienced the death of a friend, a peer. And, Jennifer Moore, how is that possible?
About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about the fact that three friends of mine, Mary Beth, Jennifer, and Frieda, had been diagnosed with cancer within the span of just a few weeks. So, in the time since, there have been many milestones recorded; first chemos, last chemo and remission for Mary Beth, a stem cell transplant for Frieda and a long slow climb back to health, and several changes in chemo when chemo wasn’t working for Jennifer.
There have been unexpected hospitalizations for all three, along with many periods of waiting for pet scan results– some news was encouraging, some we celebrated, sometimes the results tested our hope. Some tumors shrunk, some disappeared, some got bigger. But my friend’s lives and mine went on…
There have been birthdays, high school and college graduations. This past winter Jennifer threw a bridal shower for Stacy, her wonderful daughter-in-law to be. I was so disappointed I couldn’t drive there, as planned, because of a snow storm. So Mary Beth and Jennifer emailed this picture to me during the party and said the empty space left next to Jennifer represented me being there, in spirit.
Much of this, for me, has been experienced long distance, as my friends live far from where I live. But, from the start, all calls and as often as possible in person visits have included our usual laugh-so-hard-we-have tears in our eyes moments…only now, the stories shared included tales of post chemo hair loss (hair loss everywhere, so the need for tweezing chin hair was temporarily suspended and celebrating by all of as a “bonus”). And then there were the wig stories…
Wig stories were plentiful! On one visit to Detroit, a get-together with Jennifer and Mary Beth, both were now wearing wigs and trying to get used to them. Jennifer kept adjusting hers, afraid it might be askew. We laughed every time she did so. Chuckling, she said, “Remember when you got home from work and you couldn’t wait to take off your bra? Now, the first thing I want to take off is my hair!”
Mary Beth shared that she had two wigs, one short and dark and one longer and lighter in color. So, she named her two white Styrofoam head-shaped wig holders, “Laverne” and “Shirley”. Shirley, of course, wore the dark short hair and so scared their new puppy,Teddy, that just picking up that Styrofoam head with wig attached proved to be the best technique they’d ever seen for stopping bad puppy behavior.
We have laughed so hard, we’ve peed our pants. But I haven’t been physically present enough to witness the bad times. And, yesterday, it became real, too real. For the first time I realized a friend is dying. Mary Beth and I have known from the start that Jennifer’s prognosis was poor. We talked about that between us, but not with Jennifer. So, I guess denial was easy.
Jennifer was hospitalized suddenly last week, following unexplained and unremitting abdominal pain…and has been told she will live a week to one month more. Her son Michael set up a CaringBridge webpage to keep us all informed. On it he wrote,
“With all of this happening so quickly we have been told by the doctors that it is time to get Mom home and make her comfortable. It is with deep sadness that I relay this news to all of you. For 33 years my mother has been my best friend, my finest mentor and most trusted critic. She is my heart and soul. I know all my siblings feel the same way and what’s more incredible is how she has made us all feel unique in our different and special relationships with her. As we move into this final phase, words cannot express our surprise nor sorrow…”
My heart is breaking today…especially for her children…but also for every one of us who has been touched by Jennifer’s life force. And a force she is! How is it possible for her to die? As anyone who has known Jennifer will tell you, she has a personality bigger than life!
I first met Jennifer Moore about 25 years ago, through Mary Beth. At the time, Jennifer was a business reporter and TV news anchor in Detroit and we were on our way to spent 10 days in East Africa on a photographic safari. I had never laughed so hard for 10 days straight in my life! Jennifer is wickedly funny and smart, the undeniable life of the party, always! She can be loud and raunchy, and remarkably great fun, even exhausting…so how can that energy just die? I know it has to go somewhere next…I just wish I knew where…
My thoughts, prayers, and heart are with Jennifer and her family…
July, 11, 2014
I just learned that my friend Jennifer Moore passed away this morning. I’m so sad…and grateful that her son Michael and brand new daughter-in-law Stacy setting up a CaringBridge website, giving those of us who do not live nearby an opportunity to tell Jennifer how we feel about her. They did such a lovely job of keeping all of us all informed this past week. Today, here’s what Michael wrote…
We Wish Our Mother a Magnificent Journey
A little after ten this morning, our mother succumbed to her nearly two year battle with cancer. Comfortable and in her own bed, Mom passed surrounded by a house full of light and love that she created. The thoughts and prayers left on this site have been nothing short of breathtaking, each one a fitting tribute to a woman who inspired us all. Thank you for being with us through this difficult time. Our hearts are filled with love, not only from our mother, but with the knowledge that she touched so many lives, in so many profound ways.
Posted on CaringBridge By Ellen Shuman — Jul 4, 2014 2:01pm
Jennifer…I’ve been thinking about you and when we first met…in an airport on the way to Africa. (Could that really be 28 years ago?) I just told someone about that trip and recalled that I have never laughed so hard for 10 straight days in my whole life! The picture that we all have in our homes, of the four of us in that baobab tree on the Serengeti, is my favorite picture, ever! For me, it represents a time of joy, peace, calm, laughter…friendships that will go on forever in our hearts. I hope wherever this next part of your soul’s journey takes you is filled with more of the same; joy, peace, calm, laughter, and the love of wonderful friends. I have had the pleasure of calling you my friend, Jennifer. I love that…and you! And if souls can meet again in some other place and time (I sure hope that’s possible), I’m putting in a reservation to meet up with you, again, someday…so please keep an eye out for me…maybe in another baobab tree????
Goodbye my friend…