The year was 1994.
I had just left my daughter’s father. The reasons behind the separation are not important, but the date is. I left in September 1994. A 19 year old girl, with a 9 month old baby.
Even though I left, I still had hope that Baby Daddy and I would reconcile. How could we not? We had a beautiful baby together. In my 19 year old heart, we belonged together.
In November of 1994, I found out about “her”. Baby Daddy had moved someone new into the house. My house. I was terrified. I was angry. I was sad. My heart felt like it was shattered, in a billion little pieces.
Then it happened, in early 1995. I met “her”. I met Amy.
I hated her instantly. Not because of anything she said or did, but because she was with him. They would watch my daughter for a night and they had the happy family. I was struggling to make ends meet. I was the one raising a one year old child.
In May of 1995, I found out about her pregnancy and the wedding that would happen over the summer. I hated her. I hated that baby. I hated him. I wondered, over and over, why was she good enough to marry and I was not? Why did he love her, more than he loved me.
Two weeks after my 20th birthday, my first love and his true love, married. I was heartbroken. No, that’s not true. What I was feeling was WAY beyond heartbroken.
In December of that same year, two weeks before my daughter’s second birthday, her half-sister was born. My heart shattered, all over again.
In 1998, another half-sister. It didn’t hurt quite so bad this time.
And then, the insane happened. The unpredictable, the wonderful, the crazy happened.
After years of meetings to exchange my kid, talking about child support and visitation, bullshitting about life, Amy and I became friends. We never talked about Baby Daddy, but we bonded over our kids. She was a wonderful stepmom to my daughter and how could I ever hate someone who loved my daughter?
Over the years, I grew to love Amy. As I got older, I realized that her and Baby Daddy belonged together. They were soul mates. They completed each other. They were addicted to each other. They were horrible to and for each other, but couldn’t stay away from each other.
They finally separated. Things were horrible. They got into physical fights and emotional fights. They called the cops on each other and then bailed each other out. The relationship was detrimental to the health of each of them and the kids.
That was when it happened.
The wonderfully, miraculous relationship between me and Amy. She was separated and I was separated. We spent almost every weekend together, with our kids. She became a sister to me. A best friend. The second mother to my daughter and I was the second mother to her kids.
In 2012, she went off the deep end. She started behaving weird and treating people badly. She was mean. Vicious almost. I found out, about a year later, that she was addicted to pain pills and had checked herself in to rehab.
We didn’t speak. I was angry about the way she treated her kids and the things she had said to me. I didn’t know that I could ever forgive her. Her kids didn’t know if they could forgive her. Her own flesh and blood sister, swore she’d never forgive her.
One morning, in early May, I was sitting outside smoking and browsing Facebook.
I see a post on Amy’s sister’s Facebook page. She was asking for prayers for her sister.
My heart sank. This must be bad. They haven’t spoken in almost 4 years.
I sent her a private message on Facebook. What happened?
And then I read the words that no one wants to read, about someone they love.
Amy has cancer. They are doing pinpoint radiation this week. Trying to prolong things, as much as they can.
Cancer? She’s 37. How in the actual fuck can she have cancer?
It’s terminal. She has 6-9 months, if she’s lucky.
I cried. I didn’t know what else to do.
I sent Amy a message on Facebook, after a week or so of trying to digest the situation. I hadn’t spoken to her in a little over two years and to be honest, I didn’t know what to say or if she would want to hear from me.
We had some great conversations in the next few weeks. We talked about our wild, crazy ride. She talked about her imminent death and her kids. She asked me to love her kids and be a mother figure to them when she was gone. She told me how much she appreciated me and always had. She told me that she loved my daughter and what a wonderful job I had done of raising her.
We talked about things that women our ages shouldn’t be talking about.
We should have been going to bars, meeting men and discussing the possibility of a second marriage. And probably a second divorce, for us both. We should have been talking about who was sending us penis pictures and how often we were getting laid. Getting ready to celebrate graduations and birthdays. Not death. Not funerals.
I saw Amy at the end of May. It was her oldest daughter’s high school graduation.
I hugged her and held her and shared a cigarette with her. I helped support her when she got tired and laughed my ass off when she ate her fourth piece of pizza. In her words “I don’t have to worry about getting fat now!” I laughed through my tears. She took her wig off and wrapped a scarf around her beautiful bald head. I fought back tears.
The summer flew by. June. July. August. Promises to see each other. I promised her I would drive down to see her. Her 38th birthday came and went in late August. Her oldest daughter moved up and here and got an apartment with my daughter. September. Gone. October. Gone.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, we got a call that Amy wasn’t doing well and probably wouldn’t make it through the weekend. I hopped in the car with the two girls and we drove two and a half hours to see Amy. To kiss her. To love her. To let her know we were there.
It was a hard night. Seeing someone you love in that much pain was almost more than I could bear. I can’t imagine how her girls felt. I sat next to her bed, talked to her and kissed her forehead. I told her not to worry about her girls, that I loved them and they would forever know how much she loved them.
She was very out of it. She was drugged up, trying to keep her comfortable and didn’t even open her eyes, the entire time we were there. But I know she heard me. I know she knew I was there. That the girls were there. It comforted me and broke my heart, all at the same time.
On Saturday night, me and girls headed North. It was a somber drive home. I think the reality of the situation finally hit us all, like a hammer to the head.
Monday morning, three days before Thanksgiving, Amy took her final breath.
Amy will not see her youngest graduate high school. She will not see her oldest graduate from college. She was never able to see the apartment that our girls share. She will never see weddings or grandbabies. She will never celebrate another birthday or share a drink with her girls.
This last year has not been easy. Her kids have struggled. Her family has struggled. I have struggled.
I will always love Amy. I will do my best to be a bonus mom to her kids.
Life has gone on. We work. We laugh. We go to school.
Then sometimes, you just realize it’s been over seven months and all the emotions come flooding back.