Loss of my Best Friend of 30 years

by Carolyn
(Memphis, TN)

I met my friend Sharyn over 32yrs ago as a co-worker. Through the years, we became best friends and stood by one another through marriages, divorces, family issues, family losses and all manner of celebrations. For the past 20 years, we have been neighbors living only a couple of blocks apart. We each maintained our own household, but we shopped together every week, clipping coupons and store hopping for deals. I retired at the end of 2011 and we saw one another every day since then for at least a couple of hours. Cooking, eating and spending time researching the internet, or playing Internet games. We made so many plans, and had begun to plan the annual Christmas party I give for my mother who turned 90 last week. Sharyn was extremely well organized, smart and great with people. She was my sister in every since of the word except by blood.

I always depended on her to help me hold it together whenever I would get stressed out over anything. She was 10 years older, and did everything first. Menopause wasn't such a big deal for me to go through because she did it first, and gave me all the information she had researched and learned.

She lived alone and so she was the last person I spoke with every night, and I always ended the call "If you need anything, you call me." I usually didn't talk with her the next day until around 11:00 when one or the other of us would call. She had two small poodles, Faith and Sara, who meant the world to her and me. When I visited her, I called them my Time Share Poodles. On Sept. 27, 2012 I gave her a call about 10 am because I had a furnace man coming to do the fall checkup. She didn't answer and I wasn't alarmed because I figured she was outside with the dogs and would call when she got back in. When I heard nothing by 11 am and still got no answer, I became a bit concerned. I told my mother to listen for the furnace man and I would be right back.

I drove down and let myself in with a spare key. Immediately I knew something was wrong because all the curtains were still closed and the dogs, who always ran to greet me, were cowering on the living room floor. Panic set in pretty quick as I walked to her bedroom. She was in bed and I called her name. There was no response and I knew but couldn't accept that she had passed. I got in her face and screamed her name. I'm not sure how many times, and I know I was in shock. I finally touched just her cheek and it was so cold. I ran to the kitchen, and like the idiot I am called my 90 yr old mother. I realized it was wrong to do after I did it, and I tried to calm her down and told her I was calling 911 and would call her back. 911 sent a fire truck very quickly. I barely had time to get the dogs outside, and pull her car out of the garage to give them room.

Even though I knew, I kept hoping maybe I was wrong and they could save her. But they couldn't. They said she had been gone for awhile, and notified the police. They stayed with me until the policeman arrived and were so very kind. Sharyn didn't have any family left locally and only one brother who lives out of State. The fireman told the policeman they had not disturbed anything since she had already passed. She looked very peaceful, just lying in bed, the covers were under chin. The policeman said the County Medical Examiner would be needed. I explained that I was worried about my mother and he let me call her and talk to her. She was doing better just hearing my voice. I was trying to keep together for her, and I knew if I lost it, I'd never get it back together. When the Medical Examiner arrived, he was so nice. He saw the dogs standing at the patio door and said, "Oh, they are so sad, you can tell they know". Then he told me he was going to just look at her and take some photos for the record, and do some type of on scene exam. The police contacted Sharyn's doctors but none of them had seen her within the past few months, so none of them would sign the death certificate. This meant she would have to go to the county morgue. But, I know that the body was just a shell and that Sharyn wasn't there any longer. But, the ME again was so kind, and explained that they would send a van for her. He told me her eyes were clear (they were closed when I found her) and that indicated her death was not stressful. There were no signs of struggle or distress of any kind. He said it was as peaceful as he sees, and that one arm was relaxed beside her body, and the other was up under the pillow. When the van arrived I walked outside with the dogs and didn't look and tried not to listen to the sound of the wheels.

When they left, I was truly a mad woman. I couldn't stand to see her bed just sitting there unmade. Also, she had her bed up on blocks to help with acid reflux. I pulled it off the blocks, stripped all the covers and sheets (but there was nothing gross like you hear about, the bed was completely clean) and put them in a big garbage bag and put them in the trash. I then put on new sheets, and her fancy bedspread with all the pillows and fluffs that I only saw before when she bought them new. I knew I would be taking the dogs with me, so I began to load up as much of their stuff as I could manage. Their crates, food, some toys, and their beds and blankets.

Her brother arrived two days later and I went back to her house to try and help him. It gets harder and harder to go into her house. She was so ordered and neat, everything is labeled. Even the fireman commented on how nice everything was kept. My house is usually a wreck. It's only been a couple of weeks but I'm totally lost without her. And, I'm constantly worried now about losing my mother, who is my only living close relative. I never imagined that if something happened to my mother, my friend Sharyn wouldn't be there for me.

The dogs have been a big help, but also a big hurt. They grieve for her too, and I know I am not replacing her very well. Thankfully, they were used to me and luckily I have a fenced yard. But, they haven't really settled in yet, and one of them isn't eating well while the other one is eating her food and most of her sisters. I guess I'm going to have to start standing while they eat to keep that from happening. I turn my head and both bowls are empty and I can't tell how much the smaller one got to eat.

I'm trying to fill my days with work, getting stuff re-arranged. And, I'm still playing computer games. A good game can keep my mind semi occupied, but I still re-live the moment I found her over and over and over in my head. It's not as bad as in the first few days, but when it hits, it hits so hard. Plus, there are reminders everywhere in my house (besides the dogs). Even the kitchen sink hurts because one of the last things she did was help me fix the sink sprayer. I'm not angry, perhaps I haven't reached that stage yet, but I'm hurt. Hurt and alone. I am 56 yrs old so I can never hope to forge another friendship like this one. When I think of Sharyn, I know she's in a better place, and hopefully does NOT see me grieving so much. I know that's not what she would want, but that doesn't stop me from the feelings. I never even imagined this. She always said she was going to live to be 100.

Forgive me for this long story and thanks to anyone who reads it. I think writing is helpful. I have begun writing something everyday to help track my progress, such as it is.

Comments for Loss of my Best Friend of 30 years

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Jun 02, 2013
To Anonymous
by: Carolyn

Thank you for reading and responding to my story. I'm also very, very sorry for your loss. I know it's so hard. It's been 8 months, and truthfully, I don't feel a lot better. I still grieve for my friend, just like you. I write something in a journal every day, and I don't re-read what I've written. I had hoped after one year that maybe I can read it and see improvement. But, I'm not really sure now. My friend's birthday would be June 5, and I'm just overcome by the finality and the things that simply can never be again. I don't have any answers. I just take each day as it comes, one step at a time. I wish you the best as possible for it to be, and you can know you are not alone.

May 31, 2013
Best friend
by: Anonymous

My best friend of 15 years committed suicide in september. I cry every day. I am so sorry for your loss.

Oct 13, 2012
Thank you
by: Carolyn

Thank you so much Doreen for your kind and compassionate words. And, I'm so sorry for your loss. I will think of you daily, and I have started writing daily thoughts. Right now, it's still hard. With services completed and much of the busy work completed, it seems I now get hit harder because of too much thinking time. One note, my article gives Sharyn's death as 9/27/2011 but it was this year, 2012. I don't know how to edit the article. I can't believe I made such an error. Thank you again so very much for reading and responding. It helped more than you can know.

Oct 11, 2012
Loss of my Best Friend of 30 years
by: Doreen U.K.

Carolyn I am sorry for your loss of your long time friend Sharyn. I don't normally like reading long Posts, but yours was so interesting it was like reading a great book. So well written and interesting. I am however so sorry for your loss. You are very BLESSED to have had a friend like Sharyn and for so long also. Try and keep a journal and write down as many memories as you can so that you don't lose anything. It is such a rich story/history together.
Because your mother is of an age where you will be contemplating losing her one day, your loss will be greater not having Sharyn for comfort and support. Such a friendship of the quality that you shared with Sharyn is better than some families have. As the Bible says. "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
I really hope that you do find a friend again that you both can offer each other mutual friendship, comfort, and support in Life. It must have been the most panic stricken moment for you finding Sharyn the way you did. Everything runs through your mind so fast. For the first time you will be having to think of yourself and where you go from here. Questions will be. "What do I do with ME now? "How do I go on in Life." "How do I make friends when I am in the middle of grief"? When grieving there will be days you won't feel like doing anything. The hardest part will be coping with LONLINESS. You sound like an articulate woman. A woman who is coping with your loss with some MATURITY. But you will have days when it won't feel like this. I lost my husband of 44yrs. 5 months ago to cancer. I am still finding this loss so hard to deal with. My memories can't go back past over 3yrs. of living with cancer. We just go through the motions of each day till we can reach a point where it won't hurt so much. I wish you Comfort and Peace in your grief journey.

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