My friend Andrea died today. She had lung cancer, and lived almost four years after diagnosis. (See my post, Conversation Cancer.)
I met Andrea in 1989 at the bedside of Marco Vassi, who was dying of AIDS. We had both been among his many lovers, but had never met each other before. We discovered, sitting on his bed while he breathed through an intubator, that our time with him had overlapped, and we laughed about it. Marco gave me many gifts, but the best of these was Andrea.
I would never have expected a new friendship to rise from the ashes of Marco’s death, but Andrea’s like that. She gave me so much during those five days in the hospital; she never held back on emotion, and gave me space for mine. We swapped stories, learned how alike we were. You’d have to know something about Marco to understand the intensity of a connection forged out of love for him. That’s one of the things I’m going to miss: the three friends I made based solely on my relationship with Marco are all gone. All three died in their early 60s, all of lung cancer. Eerie.
After the Marco bonding and the initial Marco grief had passed, our friendship expanded. Andrea knew the deep places in me, knew precisely where I lived, knew which questions to ask. She knew what mattered in life, and steered me there. She brought me back when I got lost in my dreamscape. From what Marco told me, she did the same for him.
I’m glad she didn’t suffer too much at the end. I called her yesterday, but she could hardly talk, her breathing was labored, I just kept crying and saying I love you. She’d just come home after a week in the hospital, just yesterday started hospice care, just laid in a supply of morphine. She never even took it. She died in her sleep.
Goodbye my friend, my sister. I will miss you.