I want you to think about your oldest friend. The one you have known the longest and still keep in contact with, beyond the almost obligatory "HBD" wall post every year. I have one person in the world (apart from my parents) that I have known my entire life. Amanda Rae weatherston is just over a month younger than me. Do the math (if there is any), and that's 28 years I've known her. Without a doubt, my longest friend.
Which doesn't even compare to the type of friendship my mom had with Libby. They met when they started secondary school (which in the UK is when you turn 13), went through nursing school together, and was easily my mom's closest friend. She doesn't make friends easily, so you know Lib was special. My mom is in her fifties (as much as she is loathe to admit) so when you work it out it's over 40 years of friendship.
Let me reiterate: I've known someone my entire life and Mom and Lib still have a teenagers worth of time between the two of them.
Growing up, Libby was like a second mother to me and my siblings. With three daughters of her own she knew how to get us to cut out whatever we were doing, or start doing something when we weren't. As I got older, and my smart mouth really blossomed into the virtuoso I possess today, she was one of the few people that could leave me speechless - and with nary a raised voice. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw her lose her temper. She was just that kind of person. Her and Ted (whom I talked about in a previous post as the smartest man I've ever met) were an amazing pair; visiting them was one of the highlights of our trips to England when I lived in Ontario. They lived near Hampton Court and Bushy Park, so we would walk over and feed the der in the grounds. One year there was an enormous storm, and all these trees - hundreds of years old - were uprooted, and the kids were playing in the craters left by the roots removed. Then there was that time they came over to see us in rural Ontario.. My parents were away in the morning (I can't remember why) and my brother, then 3, found himself the subject of an experiment, wearing the daughters clothes! That same trip, and the girls were running around Port Dover beach bare ass naked, with (I was told later in life) parents standing aghast that someone could let their kids do that. That was Lib though. Fuck em.
Sadly, however, Libby passed away this week following an aggressive round of cancers. What started off as breast cancer eventually moved into her lungs, and in a very short period of time it eventually got the best of her. This news is tough for me in many ways. For starters, obviously, a death in the family (for that's how she and her family are considered) is never easy, but living 7500 km (4600 miles) away makes it difficult in that I can't get back for anyone, least of all my own mother who I know is devastated.
As you may or may not know, in 2007 my sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. She's dealing with it best she can, but Libby was that rock, she helped my family out when it was threatening to come crashing down on everyone. I worry for my sister every day, and the knowledge that there are people like Lib in her life is a huge comfort when i live far away from people.
I have been accused of taking death too lightly, but the fact of the matter is that apart from my mom's mom, I have always been in the wrong place at the wrong time: Greece when my dad's dad died, and Whistler for the rest of the grandparents. I'd only see these people once a year, tops. But it's when I do go back that their absence is felt. I can remember all of my grandparents vividly because death has rarely touched my life in a first hand kind of way. The difference here though, is that when grandparents go, you're kind of expecting it. Libby went from bad to worse in a matter of months. In fact, the last time I saw her, I don't think she had been diagnosed at all. We went to London Zoo, when I went back in 2007 to surprise my sister. Which, honestly, is how I want to remember her, as a wisecracking aunt. I'm choked I didn't get to see her on the last trip, but I felt that way even without her passing; she really was an astounding character. She got to see her daughter Alice's marriage to a hell of a guy, Jack, who I know she loved. She doesn't hurt anymore, either. You guys know that I'm not much for the religion thing, but it'd be nice to think that she's better where she is.
Anyway, this one's a little heavy, and it may not have the best flow, but it kind of turned into a ramble. It's all I have to offer to my family in lieu of making an appearance. Love ya girl.