The Goddess Speaks

By Judy Morita

Tuesday, June 1, 1999

No time for goodbyes

HOW do you say goodbye to your best friend? This August we'll both be 56 years old. Not too long ago, we thought a senior citizen was anyone over 30. Our lives are just beginning, but not for my best friend. Cancer has ravaged her body and mind, but not her soul. Although she speaks to me less with each passing week, her radiant smile never fails to tell me how much she is still with me ... my best high school friend, my college buddy, my maid of honor.

Sometimes months and even years would pass before we got to see each other. And on that rare occasion when we managed to get together we would laugh and talk non-stop for hours, as if years had not passed since our last meeting.

I watched her children grow up through her photo Christmas cards that never failed to arrive each year, always two to three weeks late.

Today is a good day. She seemed to enjoy the lipstick I applied to pretty her up for her journey from the bathroom to the living room, which is slowly becoming her entire universe. The last time I helped her with her makeup and hair, the world was her universe waiting to see her walk on stage and sing in that beautiful voice of hers. It was in the '50s. She sang, I danced, the orchestra played and life would be this happy and glamorous forever.

Bail money was needed to get me out of the MDA jail. "Help, send a donation," my flyer pleaded. She sent me a check with a cheery note of concern for me and my escapades; not a hint that she was scheduled for a mastectomy the next day.

A gust of wind surprised us as we walked in front of the MGM Grand Hotel. "Hold onto your wig, cuz I'm not running after it," I yelled. We laughed uncontrollably. We were going to conquer the world. We would beat all odds.

THE cancer had spread. The doctor gave her six months to a year. We held each other and cried uncontrollably. As usual, it was my best friend who was consoling me with her incredible bravery. Obsessing about my aging "turkey neck" was so trivial now.

She sits in her recliner with her right arm elevated to reduce the swelling. There's no whining or self-pity here. She squeezes my hand when I massage her to let me know that she knows who I am. Her left hand manages to hold onto the gardenia that her husband just handpicked for her from their garden. It takes a minute, but then she smiles at him with a smile that brightens the whole room.

Cherry blossoms were in magnificent full bloom around the entire Tidal Basin. It was the '60s. We pranced and mugged for the camera. She looked especially pretty, surrounded by a thousand delicate blossoms. Her husband looked at her and beamed. His smile brightened up the whole world.

Each day that she is able to smile is a testament to her remarkable inner strength and passion for living. The loving, unconditional, often heartbreaking care of her family breathes life into her heart. She shares in silence the camaraderie of the endless stream of friends and family who come daily bearing well wishes, flowers and food ... tons of food.

Now she doesn't have to take my advice of buying frozen vegetable lasagna from the market, putting it in her casserole dish and graciously accepting accolades for "great home cooking!"

Her life is full. She's surrounded by all the love and kindness that she gave to others.

Hey girlfriend, there's no time for goodbyes. You gotta go sing with the angels. We'll just meet there again and take up where we left off ... painting each other's toenails red and green to celebrate!

I love you, my dearest friend.

Judy Morita is president of VUE Hawaii.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
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