“A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain
Did you ever know that you’re my hero
And everything I would like to be?”
-Bette Midler, Wind Beneath My Wings
Dec. 27 “92” (9 years old)
Today I went to my best friend’s house, Nikki (Anne and Bill’s daughter). We had dinner and saw the Plymouth Rock. It was fun! I only see her once or twice a year.
Nikki and I.
Jan. 2 “93”
We took down the tree today. It was hard work. Plus, Bill called and said that Anne was gonna go to the hospital cause she’s very sick. My mom was crying cause they were best friends. And they always will be.
Mum and Anne.
2/15/94. (10 years old)
Sorry I forgot to tell you . Well you know I told you Anne got very sick? She had cancer. She died six months ago. Me and Nikki were crying like heck. I miss Anne so much. But somehow, it seems like she’s not dead. It seems like it’s all a dream.
One of my last memories of Anne defines who she was as a person.
I was 9 years old and I always had trouble falling asleep at other kids’ houses during sleepovers. I had a hard enough time falling asleep in my own bedroom. It would get to be 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, and I would become incredibly upset because I still hadn’t gotten any sleep.
I slept over Anne and Bill’s house one night when Anne was going through chemotherapy. Nikki and I were on the pull-out couch in the living room. Nikki always fell asleep with the TV on. I could never fall asleep with the TV on.
Anne got up a few times during that night to throw up in the bathroom. She was sick from her chemotherapy treatments. Each time, I pretended to be asleep. I didn’t want to disturb her.
When it got to be about 4 or 5 in the morning, I started to cry. Nikki was sound asleep and snoring. I couldn’t sleep already, and her snoring was making it more difficult. I was trying so hard to fall asleep, but I think trying made me even more stressed and unable to fall asleep.
Anne must have heard me crying. She got up again, and I tried to stay quiet so she could go to the bathroom and throw up without being disturbed.
However this time she came into the living room. I can’t remember if she said anything to me. I was laying on the pull-out couch face down. All I could remember was that she started rubbing my back in circular motions. She was trying to get me to calm down and help me fall asleep.
I felt horrible. Anne was so sick, and here she was, rubbing my back so I could calm down and fall asleep. It made me cry a little more. But eventually, I fell asleep.
I will never forget that. Anne always put others before herself, even when she was dying from cancer.
The last time I saw Anne was a few days before she died. She was at Mass General and we took the red line in to Charles MGH station to see her. She was bald. She looked so frail. I was afraid to touch her. She looked so different from the last time I saw her. I remember hugging her before we said goodbye and being afraid to dislodge anything attached to her in the hospital bed. I can’t remember any words exchanged.
The day Anne died was the first time I saw my Dad cry. I was sitting on the back steps when we received the phone call from Bill. Dad came outside and sat on one of the back steps with me.
“Anne passed away,” he said. He burst into tears. I did too. Part of the reason I cried was seeing my Dad cry.
She was only 46. Skin cancer.
I remember the wake. Anne had a brown wig on her head that matched the color hair she had before cancer took it away.
She was beautiful.
I couldn’t cry at the funeral. I had to be strong for Nikki. I was ten. She was eleven.
I had to be strong for Mum too.
I never lost anyone that close that young after that. The rest of the deaths I encountered weren’t as hard to recover from. It’s still hard for me to cry around others even when people die, because I still feel like I have to be strong for whatever reason.
We didn’t see Nikki and Bill much after Anne died. I’m not sure Nikki ever recovered from Anne’s death.
Years later, we learned that Bill got remarried. Mum was happy to know that. She wanted him to be able to move on.
Many years after that, Mum ran into Bill at the supermarket. We learned that Nikki worked at a local Papa Gino’s in the Plymouth area. She recently lost her boyfriend to a drug overdose.
When Mum told me, I felt so sad for Nikki.
How much loss can this girl endure?
Me and Nikki.