Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Bracelet



Several years ago I met a lady who quickly became a loyal friend. We had many things in common including dealing with Breast Cancer. This is not why I cared so much for Caren....no I loved her for so much more. I worked with/for her daughter, Tiffany, during my years at GE. Tiffany was like a daughter to me. She was younger than my own daughter, she was kind and understanding. In fact if Tiff had the choice to be right or be kind she always chose kindness.  I think probably Tiffany was our first link to what was to become a knowing, loving and understanding friendship. Caren lived in the city, I out in the rural area. She didn't drive, well she could but she chose not too and everyone knows how I dislike driving in Edmonton. Our face time was limited over the years but through Tiffany we had shopping trips, lunches and shared parties held by Tiffany and her sister Charney. I just really enjoyed being with Caren and her family, they made me feel loved, I wasn't invisible to them, I had a connection with a beautiful family.  At times Caren and I laughed so hard our bellies ached and only her and I even knew what we were laughing at and I have to admit there were times we didn't even understand, we only knew it was funny to us. She had a wicked sense of humor, could find the humor in almost every circumstance. We did spend a lot of time chatting on the phone promising not to reveal each others secrets, we e-mailed and face booked a.lot.

Caren and I both lost our left breast to cancer, she once said gosh we are pathetic we still couldn't make a pair with what's left together could we. She sounded so serious and with the look on her face I broke out laughing and when she realized what she had said and saw how hard I laughed she too began too laugh. We said other things that day and laughed so much and again only her & I "got it". We didn't even try to explain what was so funny to us. This happened to us many times, one afternoon she called me.....it was snowing outside and so cold so she thought we could be miserable together and within 5 minutes we were laughing. We shared our thoughts, the good, bad and the ugly. Our fears were real but together we were able to calm each other down before something would start us laughing again. This was our strongest bond.......laughter! Through her wit I was able to see the humor in almost everything. It could have had something to do with the fact we were both Gemini's born only 2 days apart yet she was much younger than me.

Caren found it hard at times to share her feelings with those she loved the most. She didn't want them worrying about her, her biggest wish was that everyone would carry on as though all were normal. She realized there was a life outside of her cancer, outside of her even and that everyone was busy with their own lives. I am not sure she realized how loved she was. She loved her family so much, her husband, her daughters and her four beautiful grandchildren. One of her wishes was that her grandchildren always know her and how much she loved them. She knew it would have to be through pictures and other people's memories but she tried to create what memories she could with them, even through her illness.

Caren had the greatest sisters ever......every year they would go to Vegas together, wear the same hats so that if they got separated someone always seem to say "oh I saw someone wearing that hat over there a minute ago" and she knew where her sisters were, having fun and always close by. Oh how she loved Debbie and Dee. They laughed more than her and I did. She knew their time together was going to be short and she tried to make it fun and full of good times and memories. She was a wonderful big sister and they loved her just as she was.

Okay back to the bracelet. Tiffany took her mom and I shopping one day, we needed a couple of those "special" bra's. While there we both noticed this really cute bracelet. It wasn't expensive but they only had one. It was an imitation Tiffany Bracelet really. Round silver balls with a heart hanging from it, the heart had a small amethyst in it. Anyway I said go ahead you get it, she said no.....you work, go out more than I do and will wear it more so you get it. We went back and forth on it but I was the one who bought it and wore it often. Whenever we saw each other and I had it on she would always say "there's my bracelet"

Caren eventually became very ill, her cancer had spread to many parts of her body and the last was too her brain. My sweet friend went to hospice. Her sister Debbie and daughter Tiffany were talking to her about me one day but Caren just couldn't remember me or say my name. Tiffany told me as she knew I was going to visit her mom and she wanted to prepare me. Hospice was an hours drive from where I live but I made the drive, found The General and was looking forward to seeing my dear friend. As I sat in the parking lot I couldn't go in, something had happened in my heart and I didn't want to see Caren so ill, or maybe I didn't want to see her only to realize she didn't  remember me. I honestly don't know. I text Tiffany and she was so sweet. She said "it's okay, don't worry as I am going up tonight". I drove home tears streaming down my face and feeling very sad, even angry at myself - to go so far and not complete what I really wanted to do. I wanted to visit my friend and tell her how much I loved her and how special our friendship was too me.

As Caren grew weaker, I grew stronger. I had to see her, no excuse, and I did. I had prepared to see her very sick and was even prepared for her not to recognize me. It didn't matter, I was okay with whatever happened as I realized it wasn't about me, it was about Caren. I hadn't dressed any particular way but I did wear the bracelet we both had loved. I didn' event think anything about it as I put it on.  Honestly I only wore it because it matched my outfit, no other reason. As I walked into Caren's room she was almost asleep. I bent over and kissed her forehead, she opened her eyes and she looked at me and smiled, she said "Bernie, my bracelet". Oh my eyes filled with tears as my heart filled with love.  We chatted and I was surprised at how she was able to carry and understand our conversation although at times she was a bit confused. As I was putting hand cream on her hands her sister Debbie came in. It was so good to see her and watch Caren's eyes light up when she saw her. I loved my time with Caren and Debbie that afternoon. Before I left I slipped the bracelet off my wrist and placed it on Caren's. It looked good on her, it was with the wonderful lady who was suppose to have it. Charney, Caren's oldest daughter told me later that she wouldn't take it off.

Last week week I visited her again, she looked at me then pointed to the bracelet and I knew that she knew who I was. I don't know why, I would of understood if she didn't but I was so pleased she knew it was Bernie who was there. Over the years Caren and I have shared many confidences and that afternoon we shared even more. I knew she was weaker than last week, even a bit more confused but there were times she was so clear and I believe knew exactly what she was saying. Without breaking our confidence in each other's secrets I know she would want me to say how much she loved her family, and sometimes worried about leaving them. She was putting them first, and I love her for that. I hugged her from me and then I said this one is from Debbie and she turned her head and said "where is she" We talked about her family, her mother and father, her sisters and her husband Boo. Oh how she loved him, and even made me smile as she told me of a few things that had happened during their 37 years of marriage. What is important here is that she was perfectly clear when she told me how much she loved and appreciated her family. She even was a bit worried about me, don't know why really just sharing with you what she expressed.

Caren passed away early Thursday morning, I don't know why but her passing hit me very hard. It was a day of tears for me and that night at dinner I had 2 glasses of wine, one for me and one for my dear friend Caren.

Caren was cremated Thursday afternoon. Tiffany and Charney had used the moisturizer I had given her as they prepared her for the end of her journey and had her cremated with the bracelet on. I was so happy to have the bracelet go with her, it brought me comfort. I love you sweet lady, and I love that I had the opportunity to tell you I did and how much I appreciated your friendship. I promised you that day that if Tiffany or Charney ever needed me, I would be there for them. This promise I will never break.

Rest in Peace dear friend, we will meet and laugh again. Of this I am sure!



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48 comments:

Alli said...

Oh Bernie what a beautiful tribute to your friend.... I am sure she is smiling down on you blushing at the lovely things you said about her.
It is so hard and hurts our hearts so much when we lose those ones we have come to care for so much. through thick and thin the friendship doesn't end at death. It is eternal. I hate this Cancer,I hate that it takes so many people we come to cherish. I hate that we have it how it just keeps robbing us of time.
Thank you for writing about Caren, through your words we will come to know and share a bit of her too.

Love Alli XXX

Shelley said...

Bernie, what a wonderful tribute to your friend. HUG

Irene said...

That was beautiful, Bernie and I know it came straight from your heart. Having just lost my sister, I know how you feel. Blessinhs!

Brian Miller said...

Hugs bernie...you got me in tears....as much for the beauty of your friendship...as with your lost of such a wonderful friend...beautiful...

Bernie said...

Shelley, thank you. Hope you are well, xo

Bernie said...

Irene,it does come from my heart. I loved Caren very much,xo

Bernie said...

Oh Alli, you get it. I so loved Caren and I know you would of as well....she was so much like us and all those who have had to deal with BC. I was so blessed to have her as a friend, love you Alli, xo

wendyytb said...

Bernie... You are such a sweet soul. No wonder Caren loved you so much. Sending a virtual hug in your direction...

Bernie said...

Hi Brian, I think of you and your family all the time. So hope all is going well for you. Friends are such a blessing and I have so many wonderful friends....life is good and I will be fine because Caren would want me to be. She was such a beautiful lady....big hugs, xo

Bernie said...

Thank you Wendy, Caren was so special. So love her and her family. Take care sweetie, xo

Jackie said...

Absolutely beautiful blogpost, Bernie. To have had a friend as loving as Caren is a blessing. This post made me cry; it was written from your heart, and it touched mine. I love what you wrote about her daughter, too: "If Tiff had the choice to be right or be kind, she always chose kindess." From what I've read here, it seems Mother and Daughter are both wonderful. I am sorry for your loss, Bernie. This is a beautiful tribute.

Bernie said...

Hello dear Jackie, I have missed you. I thought I was leaving blogging but Caren`s passing made me share my heart. I do hope you are well, how is your mum doing. Sending big hugs always....:-)

Charney said...

Bernie! I just finally stopped crying again. You had such an amazing bond and described my mom to a tee. I am happy we both had her in our life but so sad that she was taken. I love your tender heart my angel on earth.

Cherrie said...

What a wonderful friend to be blessed with knowing her. I am so sorry for your loss.

Bernie said...

Charney, I didn't want to make you cry although I understand, it was a hard day for me as well. We are all blessed to have had your mom in our lives. What you have to remember is that she loved you more than life itself, now you must live for her. Love you sweetie and am only a phone call or text away....:-) Big Hugs

Bernie said...

Cherrie thank you, I was so blessed to have Caren as my friend. Loved her.....:-)Hugs

Margie said...

Dear Bernie,
I saw the link on your Facebook page to your blog and I had a feeling you had written a post about your friend Caren!
This is just beautiful and here I am wiping away the tears :(

Such a beautiful friendship you had with Caren, treasure the memories!

May Caren Rest In Peace!

Love

Margie
xo

Bernie said...

Margie, I really thought I was done with blogging but my heart was filling up with so much pain that it was my way of dealing with it. I had to write about her, loved her and my heart is breaking for her family just now. Love you....xo

Maggie May said...

That was indeed a great tribute to your friend and as I was reading this beautifully written story, I was so hoping that you were going to give her the bracelet.
Hugs......
Maggie X

This darned disease has taken too many people.

Nuts in May

Bernie said...

Hello sweet Maggie, so hope you are feeling better. I think of you and your dear husband often.
Yes though not planed the bracelet went with Caren as part of me did as well. Tiffany said she looked beautiful. She was a very beautiful lady anyway even through her illness. Like you I hate this disease, we have lost so many wonderful people to it.
Has winter arrived in England yet, stay warm and well my friend, xo

Valerie said...

Oh Bernie, now that I have dried my tears I can tell you how beautiful your tribute is to Caren. I am so pleased you gave her the bracelet. She may be gone, Bernie, but her memory will always be alive for you. God bless you, my friend. Hugs from me.

CorvusCorax12 said...

I can only add, what a lovely tribute. My condolences you you and the Family. Even though i know all the feelings , I never know what to say. Big Hugs

Wanda..... said...

Such a heart-rending post, Bernie...full of both the joy and sadness of Love, Friendship, Life. I'm sorry for the loss of such a dear friend, hope your memories of the wonderful moments you shared with Caren give you comfort. My heart and caring thoughts go out to you, Bernie...Wanda

Diana said...

Oh Bernie what a beautiful story of your friend. I'm only so sorry to hear the ending. I can only imagine your heartache right now.
I just know that one day, you will meet again. I'm so sorry Bernie.
Love Di ♥

Jacquelyn Stager said...

I didn't realize you were blogging again! What a beautiful story of your friend and your love for her. God bless you, Bernie. You are a very deep feeling person (like me) . I love the story of the bracelet too! People like you will always have friends because YOU are such a friend to others.

Jen said...

I'm sorry for you loss, but happy that you shared such a beautiful friendship. Friendships like that are rare. Hugs.

Gail said...

DEAR BERNIE - this is such a beautiful tribute to friendship, yours and Carens. I am moved to tars of sorrow and joy all at once. I feel every emotion you so beautifully shared. And I am truly sorry for your loss and truly happy for the loving friendship you shared.
Love Gail
peace....

Bernie said...

Valarie, I too am happy she has the bracelet, I miss her so much already.....big hugs:-)

Donna said...

Bernie,
I have missed you! Caren was a beautiful lady and you a treasure of a friend. Cancer takes so many wonderful people from us way too soon.
The bracelet was a heartwarming story.
You are in my prayers!
Hugs
Donna

Bernie said...

CorvusCorax12, your words are perfect, thank you....:-)Hugs

Bernie said...

Hello sweet Wanda, I have missed you. Honestly my heart is still aching for Caren, it will pass and I will remember our laughter, and not the pain. It is good to write a post again as through my pain I am seeing my friends who I have missed so much. I think it is time I started blogging agin. Big Hugs to Alivia.....:-) Big Hugs

Bernie said...

Hello dear Di, I do hope you are feeling better, it has been such a hard few months for you. Thank you for your kind words, somehow I know Caren & I will meet again and that bracelet will play a part in it........:-) Big Hugs

Bernie said...

Jacquelyn, Yesterday I was crying and missing my friend - I had no place to put my pain so I put it out there on my blog.....it helped. In fact it helped so much I just may come back on a regular basis. You guys are wonderful medicine and gave me a place to share my heart. Hope Don is doing well.....:-)Big Hugs

Bernie said...

Jen. I have been blessed with wonderful friends. Hope you are doing well my friend, plan on catching up with you real soon, sending big hugs.....:-)

Bernie said...

Gail, how are you? Have you settled yet in your new place? I know how much you miss your mother and can relate to how Tiffany and Charney are feeling. Yes my heart is breaking for all of us but I am happy that Caren is now at peace. Be well dear friend.....:-)Big Hugs

Bernie said...

Donna, I miss you too. Hope you are well and enjoying the new season. I must pop over and see what beautiful things you have made. Caren was a beautiful lady, my heart is still very heavy...Big Hugs always

Anvilcloud said...

That was surely a tearjerker. What great memories you have and how well you expressed them.

Bernie said...

AC I do have good memories and for that I am so thankful. Blogging about it helped me a bit as my heart was and still is very heavy. I also realized how much I missed all of my blogging friends. Please tell your friend Donna I will contact her as soon as I am on my feet again and able to volunteer, I so want to help her cause. Sending big hugs.....:-)

Mitzi said...

While your post was poignant and sad, I am so glad that you wrote. I have been wondering why you haven't written in so long. I hope we hear more from you in the future.
Thinking of you today

Bernie said...

Thank you Mitzi, sorry for such a long delay between post, I am hoping to post more regular now. Hope you are well, sending big hugs always....:-)

Cinner said...

Bernie, what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I am so glad that you had so many laughs together. Beautiful the friendship you described. sending a big hug. know you are loved.

Patsy said...

(((Bernie)))

Donna said...

Bernie....I was glad to see you posting, I've missed you. I haven't been on the computer much since March and picked your post to read from the title. I love bracelets and make them so you understand my attraction to your title. Reading your post hit me hard. In March, I had my left breast removed to cancer. Since then chemo, radiation and because mine is an aggressive form of cancer am having the other one removed next month. SO much of what you wrote was my life. I think I see the hand of God in all this but it sometimes doesn't make it much easier.
Sending comfort, prayers and hugs for your loss. Your post was a wonderful tribute to Caren.

Bernie said...

Cinner, it has been a sad week for sure but with the love of family and friends will eventually settle in to a new normal......love you,xo

Bernie said...

Patsy, ((((right back at you))))) Big hugs my friend....

Bernie said...

Oh Donna I was sorry to read of your cancer, I so hate this disease. Keep fighting sweetie, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers always.......:-)Hugd

Barb said...

Bernie, I have been off-line for awhile and was so surprised when I saw that you had posted. Your honesty and caring always amaze me. You and your friend shared something very intimate and special - you both benefitted from knowing each other. The bracelet is a metaphoric link between you that will never be broken. Hugs to you, my friend, in your time of grief.

Tranquility Speaks said...

A deeply touching and moving post. I wish we had a cure for cancer..I hope it comes out soon..

She will continue to remain in spirit with you. I wish you strength and send across a lot of love to you!