Thursday, July 24, 2014

The stub

Ok...first photo on my blog of me! I promise that my hands are not usually this....chubby...

Actually my fingers are pretty much back to normal, it's just the rest of the hand that is still refusing to stop swelling.

So, meet the stub.

And it's RA disfigured counterparts.

Today was my first full day back at work in two weeks and I am exhausted, so will just leave you with this....

Enjoy!

Coming attractions:photos!

Well, I am now your 9 1/2 fingered blogger buddy. The hand surgeon only did a partial amputation since he said that the tissue under my second knuckle was healthy.

So, you can just call me Stumpy now.

And yes, having Bing here made a huge difference, although we both got into it a little bit last night.

Bing: Why can't you just realize that I WANT to help, that I am HAPPY to help, that I am your legally wedded spouse and IT IS MY JOB to help you? Why must you be so stubborn about doing everything yourself?

Me: Why can't YOU realize that I NEED to do things for myself? That it comforts me, makes me feel less awkward?

Stalemate. But, I am cognizant of the fact that having too much help is not really a viable problem....

So, in celebration of the fact that I was FINALLY semi hungry (when I am on antibiotics or prednisone, food is just something that I have to try to keep down in my stomach...) we went out to get the only thing that sounded good to me:

Don Carmelo's hamburger pizza on a cracker crust with extra cheese...



Bing, who is not a pizza fan, went with good grace and we ordered her half mushroom. So, we enjoyed a meal together.

AND, she graciously took photos of the stump, (which will be heavily bandaged til mid August), which I will post when she sends me the photos off of her phone.

So...coming attractions: photos!

I know you are shaking with anticipation....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Goodbye to finger, for realsies

Results back: biopsy positive.

Finger will be removed tomorrow late morning.

Bing is here with me.

Sorry to be so up and down.

I really never expected that bad news. I just didn't.

Talk when the skies go blue again.

Take good care.

Miss you already.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All the more for that

Hands on me.

In the shower.

One hand  gently encircling mine as I hold my baggie encased hand up and out of the shower spray

the other gently washing me with softly fragrant goat milk soap, under my breasts, around my belly, between my legs, my ass crack, underarms, neck

and then leaning down to wash each individual toe....so gently

hair is soapsyed up, tilted back to receive the soft warm cascade of shower waterfall

arm encircling my waist

"I won't let you fall, promise. Lean into me. I've got you."

Is this like kinda fuckin' erotic or is it just me? she asks.

We laugh together, chuckles tapering around the soft aqua shower walls

Both arms around me now and we just stand, mindful of the water splashing all around and over us

Out of the shower, toweled off carefully head to toe

Off to bedroom, breasts fit into bra cup, all buckled in.

time to saddle up those beauties, she says....

brown sundress over head gently, gently, not to jostle shoulders

hair brushed back like a seal

look at yourself in the mirror, Maria...you are so fucking gorgous she says

Sighing as ankle braces are slid on, arms help me up, wait until my balance gains purchase

What? You look...surprisingly sexy. Soon you'll see Lady Gaga prancing around in these and won't you feel silly for acting like such a prima donna...

Watching her water the yard and stumble through massive garden weeds in hot prairie winds

showing her Liv's latest selfie with her Father. in miner hats with lights ablaze as they prepare for a nightime spelunking.

Mama? the darkness is so dark when we shut our headlights off that just for a moment, we are suspended in time like dust motes. the sun in north carolina is like a slasher film though when we emerge into the daylight. dad and I are fine but we are worried about you. we can come home early. just say the word.

send a selfie back of Bing and me smiling into the camera, her behind me as I lean into her chest

I'm fine, Liv. no worries. have fun. in less than two weeks you'll be 15. god help us all

Wanna see a movie today? Just escape for awhile from the house, maybe I'll take you out for some dinner? Any flick you choose. ANY one. I promise no grousing. Swear on my Meemaw's grave, mon chere. THAT one? Um...sure...boy howdy, you are going for it, aren't you, sugar? Ok...let's do this thang.



Shoulder rubs that last for over a half hour.

hands that know me

eyes that know me

heart that knows mine

darlin', you'll never walk alone, why must you try so hard to get through it all by yourself? you're one of those people who think they are this big hermit, but gal 'o mine? you are soooo loved. by so many. just get that big brain of yours around that big fuckin' truth. but look into my eyes. these eyes? they will never lose their shine for you.

later, flipping through emily dickinson's book of poems

if your nerve deny you, go above your nerve

Nike said it with less beauty:

Just do it.

allow yourself to fall back, trusting that her arms will be there

they haven't failed you yet

Bing is back home.

Bing is back home.

Bing is back home. 




Friday, July 18, 2014

Well, looks like I lied

....the good news: I still have my finger. I signed it away. The whole thing. And then the hand surgeon got in there and I heard him say, "Maria, honey. I guess I done lied to you. The MRI and bone scan looked pretty dire, but, looking at your finger? It looks like....welll....ok....you have this...mass. And it is about the size and shape of a pea. But, it is NOT attached to your bone, as we feared. There is just all this....RA swollen tissue and it is sort of rolling around in there. In the MRI, it looked as if it was attached to the bone, but it isn't. So...not going to take your finger...yet. Now, I'm not saying that this might not happen in the future. I'm going to send this sucker in for biopsy, and if we get it back and it's malignant? We may just have to amputate to be safe. And frankly, your blood tests are showing signs that there is something seriously not right going on in your body, but for now...I'm just going to debride your finger, get all of this....crap out of there and sew it up and we'll wait for the biopsy. How does that sound?"

Well, it sounded pretty good.

And so, I still have the finger.

No biopsy results yet. Apparently, they are having a second look at them. My hand surgeon is acting all cagey with me, says that they want to be very sure. I will know the results for sure on Monday.

But, the last week has been......hellish. Not because of the waiting, I have had to wait many, many times. I am not good at it, but I am used to it. In a perfect world, results would be lickety split. In my world, they take FUCKING forever.

In the meantime, there was a big stink about what antibiotic to put me on. I take methotrexate for my RA, so if I have to go on an antibiotic, I have to go OFF the methotrexate, which is a huge payment. It takes about 4 days for my RA symptoms to come screaming back once I go off of it. But, methotrexate does not tolerate antibiotics well. My hand surgeon and rheumatologist decided on Levaquin, a powerful antibiotic. I have the added problem of being allergic to penicillin, erythromycin and tetracycline. So, my choices are limited.

Levaquin, it was.

My body does not do well on antibiotics. I get incredibly nauseated, suffer from diarrhea (thought you might like a sexy mental pic!) and can barely hold them down. I was prepared and yes, suffered through. But, this seemed like a small thing in order to keep my finger from becoming infected.

Until I had a severe allergic reaction to the Levaquin. Ok. Do yourself a big favor. Go google this drug. You will see that one of the rare severe reactions to Levaquin can be achilles heel tendon rupture or tear and
shoulder rotator cuff tears. It is a rare occurrence, but a possibility.
I am one of those rare people who had the reaction.

2 days into taking the Levaquin, I noticed that I felt just lousier than usual on antibiotics, was running a fever, felt so out of it, so exhausted, that I couldn't go to work, could barely get out of bed. And then, the back of my heel kind of ached when I walked.

The next day, when I tried to get out of bed, both shoulders screamed in pain and I could not walk on my legs. My achilles heels tendons in both legs were badly swollen. I couldn't raise my arms.

Got off the antibiotics. Doctors hoped that complete bedrest would help. It has. A little. I can now walk with a cane, with both ankles in braces. Shoulders are a little better. Doctor shot them up with cortisone, hoping that this was a RA flare up and not a reaction to the Levaquin.

I've been off work all week. In bed. Running a fever. Harriet and my sisters waiting on me hand and foot. Trying to stave off Bing, who will not be staved off anymore and is now coming home tomorrow and skipping the last leg of her Apple journey.

It's been hell, dudes.

And this has nothing to do with my fucking finger.

But, today...I noticed that I could raise my arms to brush my teeth. And I can brush my hair with my right hand. I showered for the first time in 3 days with my sister Patrice.

That was fun. When I blanched, she reminded me that I used to take showers ALL THE TIME with her when I was little.

"I was 2 and you were 10!" I blustered.

"Well, now you're 56 and I'm 64," she retorted. "We both have nothing to feel embarrassed about. My boobs are still so much better than yours and I actually think your butt might be bigger," she noted.

Only your sister can somehow make it okay to methodically wash your hair and clean your clavicle and legs and all those other unmentionables parts while you hold one arm up as high as you can, hand covered in a baggie because you can't get the bandage on your finger wet. She even cleaned my face, reminding me that she did this daily with her grandchildren who were actually more cooperative than I was.

Today, is the first day that I am able to sit up and type a little, although my energy is flagging and shoulders aching. My temp is down to 99.9.

I may actually be healing. Fingers crossed. Because when I was able to sit up and look at my computer in bed, I terrified myself reading patient reviews of Levaquin. There is actually a current lawsuit going on against Johnson and Johnson about this drug from a great coalition of people who have never recovered from their achilles heel tendonitis and rotator cuff pain. I don't plan to join. The warning is in black and white on the literature. You just never think you are going to be that one person in ten thousand.

Apparently, I am. But, lesson learned. I will NEVER take Levaquin again or let anyone in my family take it. I am wondering if perhaps that percentage may actually be greater since there are thousands of people on this lawsuit.....At any rate. PLEASE promise me that you will never go on it. Ever. Please?

So, slowly but surely I am recovering, I think. I still have the finger! Will know lab results on Monday.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and how about you share with us some medically scary story of your own? It will make me feel less like Job and misery loves company and all that shit.

I miss work. I never thought I'd say that. I mostly just miss my old life. Love and pain and the whole damn thing. I just want to walk without these hideous ankle braces and a cane again and I'd love to be able to hold my arms up over my head to pull my own sweater off. That doesn't seem like so much to ask....does it?

So, any stories? Or just a hallelujah that I still have my finger? Or good thoughts for my lab results?

I swan, this has been the longest Summer of my life.....I don't dare think of my garden. I need some diversion, dudes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Goodbye to a finger

I figured that I should type this all down now since I may not be in typing action for a bit.

Yes, I am losing my finger tomorrow. MRI done. Showed that my upper joint in the middle finger of my right hand is pretty much gone from RA damage. And now the bone just below it is infected. So, it can't stay.

I keep looking at it, thinking how very much I took that one finger for granted. It has served me well over the years. I do silly things, like tenderly kiss it. I feel so....tender towards it. I thanked it for trying so hard against the RA. And then felt like a total idjit as my dear sainted departed Irish Mother would have said. Talking to a finger? Poppycock.

I had to tell Bing. She was reasonably upset. Angry that I had not really kept her in the loop regarding the severity of it. She said that she would come home tonight. I told her not to bother, that Harriet was all set to take me to the surgeon tomorrow. I'm scheduled to lose the finger tomorrow at 4:30. She'll drive me home, stay with me. And oddly? I want to be alone for a while.

I tend to deal with sorrow better if I am in solitary mode. And while I love my wife, I don't think I could stand to have her hovering over me. I downplayed it, told Bing that if my little sister Jessie could woman up to losing two breasts (or ludies as we call them in my strange family...also, for future reference: a spatula is called a spa-tula and if you are cranky, you are behaving like an Annie. If you complain too much, you are a Susan. Go figure...)

Bing grudgingly agreed to my terms.

And then, I went to take a long hot shower. Cried. Felt embarrassed for acting like such a baby. At least I wasn't acting like a Susan.....

I got out and dried off, found my comfiest pjs and settled down to read. Noticed my phone blinking. A voice message from Bing.

Verbatim:

"Okay, sweetheart. I will never in my life get you. Why you went and HID it from me that you went to a hand surgeon and now I just have one request: ask to keep your finger and I'll wear it around my neck in a little vial like Billy Bob Thornton. I'll wear it to school and if a kid is giving me grief, I'll show it to him and tell him that this is what I do to pain-in-the-ass little fuckers.

(Sigh. I love her sighs....even when she is disappointed in me....)

I just...I love you so much. And I don't care if you have all your digits. I was just thinking about all those bars we used to hit in college, especially Toads. Remember Toads? That country bar? We always wore cowboy hats there and there you'd be in your little flowery sundresses with those kick ass cowboy boots and a white cowboy hat on your head. I was so in love with you right from the start. The second I saw you in that dorm room...I knew that it was a done deal. I was going to pine for you like nobody's business. And you were NEVER going to be mine. You always swore that you couldn't dance country. Liar. I'd coax you out on the floor and teach you all my Louisiana dance moves and you'd come around. Get all sassy and messy. I would twirl you around and we'd both start laughing and then I'd catch you and....god...my heart was so in my throat and I'm sure in my eyes too. I'd pray for a slow song and once in a while, I'd get lucky and get to dance one with you. A couple of times, we'd be swayin to the music and I'd smell your hair and think that if I could just smell your hair every morning, I wouldn't ask for another thing in my life. I'd whisper in your ear  'just breathe, darlin, just breathe' and sometimes you would let me hold you so tightly and I would feel you giving in to this, to us. You'd hold me tight right back and after the song ended, we'd just stand there for a while, me sick with love and you trying not to let yourself just give in to me. You always held back, there was always this aloof part of you that would never just let go emotionally, not with me or anybody.

And then, nine years ago, when I had all but given up on you, you finally decided to risk loving me back. And there I am now, smelling your hair every morning and feeling so grateful that you picked  ME! I love every hair on your head and our life together with Liv and Socks and your big Irish family and my hillbilly Southern one. You married me. God, I still wake up in the middle of the night and reach to touch your ring finger to make sure that I didn't just have a fever dream, that you actually love me back.

I don't care if you have nine digits. I don't care if you are using a cane or in a wheelchair or have cataracts or RA. All I want is my Maria. You are the only person in the world who can still blow me off my feet on any given day.

Remember Hope Floats? I caught a bit of it last night when I was channel surfing at the hotel. C'mon, you know the scene. You be Birdy and I'll be Justin. Because I'm the big strapping crazy-in-love one and you are and always will be my girl in that flowery dress and cowboy boots. I'll send you the link. And I'll dance with you in my dreams tonight. Love you, sugar. G'night. Call me when you get up tomorrow, ok?"

That is one message that will not be deleted soon. Maybe never....

Monday, July 07, 2014

Alone

"Well," I said, looking down at Socks. "It's just us for a month."

Socks sighed, but wagged his tail sweetly. He's a gentleman dog, doesn't like hurting my feelings. I heard his Ernest Borgnine voice in my head.

"No worries, sugar foot. We'll be just dandy."

I pet his head with my good hand and then we walked into the house together. I'd let him ride with me to take Bing to the airport. Liv and her Father left yesterday. Bing is off to New Orleans, followed by San Diego, followed by Washington, D.C. A month of presenting at Apple seminars. Liv and her Father off to North Carolina to a dig in the Appalachians.

Bing comes home on August 11, the day before she heads back to school. Liv comes back August 7th, a week before her school starts back up...just in time to go school shopping. It is gonna be a really long month. In our original plans, I was to meet Bing in New Orleans to spend a week with her relatives mid July, but my doctor nipped that in the bud. Blood work bad. No traveling.

I was upset at first, but then...later...relieved. I'm just not up for travel. I know this in my heart. I'm barely up for work and then coming home to collapse with a book for an hour before bed. Maybe some harmless television.

The last few days before everyone left were the hardest. Bing was watching me like a hawk, considering skipping New Orleans and staying two weeks with me before heading off to San Diego.

Dudes, you should have seen me. Meryl Streep couldn't have done better. I had no idea that I possessed such great acting chops. Somebody hand me an Oscar.

Because, just between you and me the fence post? I feel like shit. My energy is level is so down from this RA attack that I can barely keep myself fed and dressed. One lone finger is refusing to heal. The middle one on my right hand. It is wretched to look at, swollen sausage finger. My rheumatologist referred me to a hand surgeon last week. I went by myself, not telling anyone. The prognosis is a little dire. Trying one more round of super antibiotics which are very hard on my RA drugs and type 1 diabetes. If these don't work, looking at either joint replacement or.....amputation. The damn thing just will not heal. I'm depressed. Furious at my body. Pleading with it every night: Why must you attack yourself? Heal already!

For those of you who have RA or know someone who does, you know how frustrating this is. The problem being that your own body attacks itself. I once went to a psychic long ago who looked me gently in the eye and said, "Why do you punish yourself so? You have nothing to blame yourself for!" I was speechless. Did she really believe that I was somehow punishing myself? And for what exactly? I'm still not sure if she was incredibly intuitive or full of shit.

I am pretty good at keeping things from Liv, but the older she gets, the wilier she is. And I can't exactly hide a finger that looks like it belongs on a cartoon character. I keep it wrapped in gauze at work, but need to let it breathe at home, so she sees it, sees me wincing when I accidentally graze it across anything. I just shrug and act like it's no big deal. Like it isn't killing me that Bing and I haven't been able to sleep in the same bed for 3 weeks because if she brushes against my hand in the middle of the night, I come awake fast and hard and in agony. The pain is truly terrific. And not good terrific.

Bing gets it, but I've minimized the fact that along with this pain, my fatigue is almost too much for me. I've managed to get up and go to work, but sometimes I have to fight to stay awake during dinner and I'm just so very tired. I feel like it's a double whammy, fighting anemia, fighting this never ending RA attack. I am now very relieved that I don't have to worry about what the cabin pressure in an airplane would do to my finger.

I'm glad to be home, glad not to feel so on stage. Because Bing came THIS close to not leaving. And I don't think I could stand it if she stayed home to be my caregiver. I'm not there yet. I fucking refuse to be there yet.

So, it's just me and the dog. And those antibiotics that I am keeping my fingers crossed do NOT mess with my diabetes because then I will have to go off of them. And then? Well, I'd kind of like to keep my middle finger on my right hand. It's served me well in the past.

You have no idea how much that one little finger does in a day until you can no longer use it.

I tell myself that this is a blip on the radar. That Socks and I will have a great quiet time. He will miss his morning runs with Bing, will have to settle for a run in the back yard before I head off to work. I've swore to him that I will take him on long, long walks after work every evening. He looks at me, skeptical.

"Well, I'll TRY!" I tell him. He nods, understands. As I said, he is such a gentleman, If we only make it once around the block, he'll be sweet. He will.

And we both love our nights outside in the Adirondack chair together. If it doesn't rain. Because this has been our monsoon Summer. It has rained so much that the ground is saturated. I haven't had to manually water my garden once. Ah. My poor garden. It is so waterlogged and weedy. I try to keep up with it, but often fatigue gets me. So, my garden is bedraggled looking. Root rot is trying to set in. I keep hoping for some long sunny days. And for once in my life, I'm grateful to be left handed. I can still pull those weeds with my good hand.

So, life hasn't been horrid. It's just been....very uncomfortable. Sorry to have neglected all of you. I miss your blogs but admit that more than once, I've sat down to read them and dozed off. Not that you aren't all scintillating and all that. I'm just a cruddy reader lately. Forgive me?

I'll head back in a few days and let you know how the wind is blowing. In the meantime, how about you leave me a comment and tell me how you are faring?

I miss you....




Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ode to an office manager

If someone had told me that the day that I met Betsy would be a pivotal one in my life, I would have laughed.

Seriously?

3 years ago, as I sat in our yearly meeting with the two other physicians in our firm, we decided that our budget had room for an office manager. We each had a secretary. We had a nurse and a translator whom we all shared, but office managing had been something that we passed around between us. I had January through April. Jin had May through August and Fawn had September through December. Jin was the best at it, Fawn the worst, me in between. All of us hated it. Payroll, crossing t's and dotting i's on all governmental red tape forms, billing.

We needed an office manager. We decided to hire one.

On paper, Betsy did not look all that impressive. She had an associate's degree in bookkeeping and had only held one job: she worked the front desk at a grade school. Big whoop.

At her interview, she reminded me of a white rabbit. She was tall and willowy, with white blonde hair, light blue eyes and so pale that she looked right next door to albino. Her demeanor was quiet. She seemed shy, extremely reserved.

We interviewed a few others, including one very animated hot shot bookkeeper who currently worked for the dentist in our office buiding. She was probably the most qualified, but it unnerved me when she badmouthed her employer, calling him an unrelenting task master. I felt she was more gossip than substance and while Jin and Fawn wanted to hire her, I nayed her.

The only other applicant that we all thought that we could live with was Betsy.

We hired her.

On her first day, she seemed a little dismayed at the state of our books, but she smiled at her office. Admitted that she had never had her own office.

Four days into the job, she had everything so tidied up that it was nearly unrecognizable to me. A place for everything and everything in its place. She wasn't inclined to lots of office decoration. For the next three years, the sole decoration in her office were two bible verses written on white 3X5 cards tacked directly above her computer, and a photo of her grade school teacher husband and their two sons when they were babies. The boys are now 13 and 16.

Little by little, she and I snuck up on each other. We are not the types of people who usually become friends. Betsy was raised Mennonite in Minnesota. She met her husband when she was in my town visiting her cousin. Her cousin had brazenly left the Mennonites in Minnesota to become a secretary here and became a Baptist. They went to a church picnic and there was Aaron, Becky's future husband, the Baptist preacher's son. She moved in with her cousin, converted to a Baptist and married him. Once, I asked her if she missed her old religion. No, she said promptly. She did not. She absolutely loved her new religion. She adored being a Baptist.

I have never hidden the fact that I live and love a woman. I don't go around talking about it, but I do not hide it, even by omission. I knew that Betsy's religion was dead set agin us but she never said a word to me. She did invite me several times to come to her church for Christmas, for Easter, for the summer picnic. I refused all invitations on principle. If my spouse was not welcome, neither was I. She nodded, not commenting.

Within a year, we were best work friends. Underneath that clean as a whistle pretense, I discovered that meek and mild Betsy carried a freak flag. She just hid it pretty well. And something in her found a pilgrim in me and we just connected.

It shocked both of us. I had no desire to have a bible thumping Baptist bestie at work and she was equally dismayed to have a liberal Democrat bi-sexual one. But, there it was. She and I fit like a puzzle that, at first, seems too hard but then all of a sudden makes perfect sense once you get the outer edges worked out. She openly wept when one of our secretaries had an abortion. I championed her, praised her for being mistress of her own body and realizing that she just could not care for a child. Betsy and I both knew where the other stood, but didn't try to sway the other. She no longer tried to get me to visit her church. I no longer made a stand of not going.

Our friendship deepened. She and I went to lunch once a week and they were long, laughter filled times. We found much to talk about even if she refused to have a television in her home, so couldn't discuss The Walking Dead with me (and frankly, even if she did have a television, that program would have been soundly banned for violence and bad language) and we didn't like the same kinds of books. She loved religious tomes. I like fiction.

We talked about our children a lot. Her passion for her sons equaled mine with my daughter and we often shared problems and how to solve them. Why was her 12 year old such a crybaby? Was this her fault? Why had my daughter grown so distant? Was this my fault? Was she mimicking her aloof Mother?

We talked about work a lot. Many of our clients are foster children, long in the system. We talked long and hard about how to help our pro bono clients. We spearheaded together a help box. A big box in our office that staff members stuffed with diapers, formula, baby clothes, blankets.

Betsy's work was flawless so her yearly assessments were as well. We gave her raises every year.

One day, Betsy walked into my office and asked if she could sit down for a second. Seeing tears in her eyes, I said yes, of course. Turns out that one of the secretaries (mine) had called her a hoity toity holy roller when she thought she couldn't hear. Betsy was stung. I was furious and told her that my secretary (who has since been fired, but not for that) would be chastened. No, she told me. No punishment for being a gossip with a big mouth and bad opinions.

"I fight my own battles, Maria," she told me. And she did.

Our relationship deepened further. When my monthly bloodwork revealed that I was out of remission, it was in her office that I finally let my eyes fill with tears. And Betsy knew not to touch me, but sat carefully and quietly at her desk, her own eyes filling with tears too.

"You'll beat it again," she said, with clear finality. "I pity the cancer that takes on YOU."

Betsy and I never socialized outside of the office, other than our weekly lunches. Her weekends belonged to her husband and sons. She gave the office her land line number, but never gave me or anyone else her cell phone number. She missed a lot of pithy cell texts that I would have sent if I'd had her cell number, but, hey...her loss.

Last week, Betsy came in my office and sat down early one morning.

"I have something to say and it is really hard, but I want you to know first," she told me. I sighed. Somehow knew this was coming. She had spoken a few months ago about a new middle school that was going up just a few blocks from her home. She had mentioned that she thought she might like working in a school again. And two weeks ago, I was called for a reference for an Elizabeth Oleson from that same school. She had applied for the position of front office manager.

I couldn't lie. I informed the school principal that Betsy was the best employee that I had ever known. She easily got the job. It comes with a raise, but less hours. She will have her Summers off now, something she always missed from her previous job.

On her last day of work, we will have her going away party. We will all be jovial and talk about how we will miss her but that our paths will surely cross again.

They won't. We don't run in the same circles. We won't see each other at that Baptist church Summer picnic. We won't run into each other in the literary fiction section of a book store. She grocery shops at a small family owned grocery that is owned by a fellow church goer. I won't see her at Whole Foods when I am eying the produce or buying goat milk for my coffee.

Betsy and I are that common breed: great work friends. If I called her up two months after she leaves, the call would be stilted. We will no longer have the common ground of a shared workday. I will no longer come into her office, flop down in a chair and share about that awful foster parent. She will no longer talk to me about her ideas to order new chairs for the conference room. We will have missed the day to day talk that made our friendship ours. How her in laws visit every month and she has to scour her house down because her mother in law actually does walk around her home with white gloves, checking the baseboards and telling her that she  puts too much mayo in the egg salad. I won't have shared that cell phone photo of Liv's first date and all the drama that ensued with Bing because of it. I won't secretly show her the chicken dance that my sisters and I do every Thanksgiving together. She won't shake her finger at me and frown whenever I say the word damn. She won't make me laugh so hard that I spit out tea by telling me how her son split his pants at work and decided to staple them back together and then the staple burst and cut his ass (or as she put it: his hind end.) We won't have the day to day stuff and there will be too much to tell and none of it shared anymore, so what's the point? Office friendships are for day to day office happenings.

But, I will think of her often and wish her well and sometimes, I will feel her thinking of me too as she deals with some smarty pants middle schooler.

I have been changed by knowing Betsy. She says that she has been changed by me. I am not sure how, but we are.

And I already miss her.