The night before we left Kansas City last week, I asked my dear girlfriend, Dawna, for a word to write about. She chose Wiley, which is the name of her dog as well as her maiden name. I was in the mode of still asking for words to write about because I had no idea that *BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP* (censored due to copious amounts of foul language) cancer was planning to ruin our day, which would end up changing the course of my writing altogether.
One of the best parts of getting on that study in Kansas City was the fact that I’d have Dawna for support. It made such a difference. I did eventually make friends with the folks at the Ronald McDonald House in New York City, but we were all in the same boat. We were all fighting. We were all talking about our children. The camaraderie was strong, but it could be overwhelming when a child lost their battle or there was a setback in their treatment, etc. The nice thing about Dawna is we just got to BE. I was always a scanxious mess the few times that we did travel to KC but she did her best to distract me. We’d watch TV, drink wine (which you aren’t supposed to do at the Ronald) and laugh about stupid stuff.
I met Dawna when I lived in Summit County. I worked at a bank with a bunch of ladies I didn’t really have anything in common with. I think what it came down to is that they were a bunch of catty b*tches and I never had any interest in playing their games. Plus, all the officers loved me and said things like “I wish I could clone you. You are a great employee.” All the other ladies were jealous. So, when Dawna came in for her interview, all the ladies gathered around to judge before they even met her. As I avoided their blathering, I stated out loud, “That girl WILL be my friend,” which did nothing to solidify my membership with their group.
Dawna got hired and she did become my BFF. She felt the same way about the other catty b*tches at the bank as I did. We were a team. We had a blast working the drive-thru together. We started hanging out after work which morphed into spending days off together. She took me to my very first Target on what became known as “Big Fun Days.” There was no true shopping in Summit County so we’d have to travel to Denver. We had so much fun.
I moved away from Summit County first. And then she moved back to Missouri, but we maintained contact. The beautiful thing about our friendship is we can go for ages without talking but the moment we’re back in contact it’s as if we were never apart. So, when Ben had the option of treatment in KC, she offered her home to us. It was nice to stay in an actual house. Dawna has two big dogs who would sleep with us at night. Ben loved that. I think dogs – or animals in general – are a comfort to him. Jack and Wiley were great at loving on Ben and Dawna was great at loving on me. She’d let me be weird if I needed to be. She’d supply me with a beer after a long day at the hospital. Her comfort knew no bounds and I was so grateful. So when I called her from the hospital last Thursday with the incapability to say any words at all, her answer was, “I’ll be right there.”
She’s always been right there for me, my sweet Dawna. I know I am safe with her and that’s a rarity in my world. I have a lot of friends but few who get to the center of this Sarah-tootsie-roll pop. She gets me. And, interestingly enough, she’s not afraid of that. 🙂
I don’t know what I would have done without her last week. The journey to the front of the hospital after hearing that news was one of the longest of my life. My knees were as awkward as a newborn colt. My breath as if I’d just finished a marathon. My grip on Ben’s hand holding on for dear life. Cancer couldn’t take him away if I was holding on as hard as I was. Someone helped us cross the finish line to the outside. I don’t know who that person was. I’m glad she was there, whoever she was. She got us to a bench where we could wait for Dawna to pick us up. Ben held my hand, comforting ME (epic mom fail) as I maniacally yo-yo’d between body-wracking sobs and indignation (complete with Hitler-esque hand gestures) that we’d beat it again. When she pulled in to the hospital roundabout, she hugged Ben first. Choking back the tears. The pain obvious even behind her fashionable sunglasses. And then she hugged me. My weak knees strengthened by the love she’s always had for me. Letting me know in that one amazing hug that she wouldn’t be letting me go. Wouldn’t be letting us go.
So, Dawna Wiley McGill, with a dog named Wiley and a lot of love for a hero named Ben and a wacko friend named Sarah, your immeasurable love is so appreciated. It will help us be as tenacious as another “Wiley”… Wile-E-Coyote, who kept after that stupid Road Runner even though he kept getting beat. Kept getting anvils dropped on his head. Kept falling off that cliff and landing with a distant expulsion of dust – but yet kept surviving. Kept returning. Kept fighting. We’ll do the same.
I know. Stupid analogy. But it fit. And I know she’ll still love me despite my being a complete dork.