I spent the summer of 1978 in summer camp, as I had done every summer since 1976. Except 1978 was a special year. It was the year that the organizers of the annual Rah-Rah show decided that it would be an all-Beatles production. Each group in the camp was to learn a particular Beatles song and perform it at the show. Our group's song was Hello, Goodbye.
And so began my undying love for the music of the Beatles, and everything that followed from John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The typical camp songs we sang on the long bus rides were replaced with Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Octopus's Garden, and Yellow Submarine. I ran out and bought the red and blue albums (album being the operative word here, since after all, this was 1978) and listened to them constantly. Camp was such a special place because it introduced me to new things that I might not have otherwise gotten to experience.
Camp will also always be very special because it was there that I met my friend, Tricia. Except she was always Patti back then. We went to camp together every summer from 1977 through 1985. We went to different schools during the year, but every summer were reunited as if we had never been separated. After camp ended, we went our separate ways to high school. Coincidentally, we ended up going to the same college and bumped into each other on occasion; but we were so different than the kids we had been at camp, and hung out with different crowds. Patti was a sorority girl and hung out at all the cool sorority bars, and I was so not the sorority girl. Even so, we had a long history together and acknowledged it whenever we met by accident.
Years later (1999), I was working at my first Audiology job. Strangely enough, in a weird sequence of events, I found out that Patti (now calling herself Tricia) was also an Audiologist and was working with a friend of mine. A very bizarre coincidence, especially considering that our college didn't even have an Audiology program and therefore we both had to go back to school to first take pre-requisites, and then earn our degrees. It was such a strange feeling, to know that the little girl I had befriended so many years ago ended up on the same path as I did. We got together a few times and reminisced about the good old days. Eventually, I switched jobs after much prodding from her and my other friend. Now we were working together and it was so great to see her (almost) every day and to know that we shared a special experience from our childhood.
Except that things weren't going so well for Tricia. She had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy every week. Her full-time position at our company turned into part-time, when keeping up with medical appointments and overcoming the effects of the chemo and other various medications became too much for her. Eventually she quit when life became too overwhelming for her. She wasn't only trying to deal with her own illness, but was mourning the loss of her father in 2005 and subsequently, her mother in 2006. Nobody should have to go through the pain that she went through. It broke my heart.
Despite her own troubles and declining physical health, Tricia would talk to me about my infertility and was a great listener. She wanted to try to forget her own problems and would always ask me to tell her what was going on in my life. Of course, at that time, the only thing I could focus any attention on was my struggle to conceive. She told me all the time that she would pray for me. Tricia was a very faithful person, and even though I didn't believe that prayer would miraculously fix what was broken, I appreciated so much that she was taking the time to include me in her prayers, when she clearly had so many other things to worry about.
This past summer, Tricia got very sick. Her cancer spread to her lungs and her brain, and she was living in a hospice on the other side of the country. By the time we found out that her health had declined so drastically, her brain had already deteriorated so much that she couldn't carry on a conversation. I was just beginning my IVF cycle and couldn't talk to my dear friend, whom I knew would want to keep me in her prayers and hope for the best for me.
The day I had my third beta drawn and found out that I was indeed pregnant, I debated whether to somehow tell Tricia. By that point, she was barely conscious. I had attempted to talk to her the week before, but it was a difficult conversation. I had no idea if she was even understanding what was being said. However, the doctors were giving her no more than a couple of weeks more to live. I wanted her to know that her prayers had been answered. I also knew that if I waited, it might be too late. But I also struggled with the idea because the last thing I wanted to do was to make her more upset about her situation, since she wouldn't be around to see my baby born and subsequently grow up.
Knowing the kind of person Tricia was, I decided that it would make her happy to hear good news. She was always about wanting the best for her friends. So I emailed her aunt, who had been a loving and attentive caretaker in Tricia's final weeks. I told her aunt that if she noticed a moment when Tricia appeared to be lucid, to please pass along the message that I was pregnant. A couple of days later, I received a reply from her aunt, telling me that she sat down with Tricia and told her my news. Tricia smiled and nodded, and her aunt just knew that Tricia understood.
Five days later, Tricia passed away. It was a devastating day. Knowing that she would never know my child made it especially hard. However, I was somewhat comforted to know that somewhere in her deteriorating mind, Tricia understood. I was glad that I had made the decision to tell her, and she was the first of my friends to know.
I strongly believe that Tricia came back into my life for a reason. During the brief time that we were reunited as adults, she became a source of strength for me. Tricia was a little thing: short and thin and so delicate-appearing; but she was the strongest person I've ever known. What she endured, no one should have to endure. What she taught me is that no matter what is going on in your life, there's someone who is much worse off than you, so be thankful for what you have. Her situation helped put things in perspective for me. As I was struggling with my infertility, I kept reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things, I was so lucky. I was healthy, had a wonderful family, and was fulfilled in every other aspect of my life. Tricia was the model of a survivor. She was a fighter and hung on until the very end. I miss her so much. There was a reason that our paths crossed. They were meant to cross.
I feel like by the time we said Hello again after so many years, it was time to say Goodbye.
After her death, I asked her to be my baby's guardian angel and look after us. As I am typing this, I have made it to 12 weeks, and I just know that she is here, watching over my baby. I'm not a very religious person, but with so many odds against this pregnancy, I really don't have a better explanation for why our Little Embryo That Could is still hanging on. Our baby is so lucky to have the love of DH's mother Elaine, my grandparents Lillian and Isaac and Elizabeth, and now my dear friend Tricia, to see it safely through.