Teri Dunnegan died two days ago. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and my friend.
We met as a result of our husbands working together and formed an instant bond. We raised our children together, went though challenges and triumphs and the loss of our dads together.
For a number of years, we lived across the country from each other and communication lapsed. But even after months of not talking, or a year, one or the other would call and we’d pick up right where we left off.
Teri developed bone cancer in 1995 and she trudged through medical hell in the years since. Yet we still compared notes on our kids and grandkids and writing and life. We still had those life, death and the universe kinds of talks and delved into spiritual issues and Biblical interpretations. We still laughed and cried and cursed fate at another round of medical challenges. We walked down memory lane a good deal, too. Remember things we did in our twenties, when the kids were small, and shared Thanksgivings. After cooking a turkey with the goodies still inside, the next year she was so proud of herself for remembering to save them so I could make the gravy. But she presented them to me when it was time to eat, and they were raw. We laughed so hard that day, remembering it still makes me smile and actually giggle.
A few weeks ago, Teri decided she’d had enough of chemo and radiation. She’d fought the good fight and she was worn out and ready to go home. That’s probably a challenging thing to understand if you’ve never had an illness that required all you had to give and more. I understood completely. She didn’t want to leave her family. She didn’t want to leave her life. But she knew where she was going and that it was time.
So I guess the purpose of this post is a multiple one. To reiterate that my friend lived. Really lived. To remind everyone, myself included, that friends are precious treasures–especially old friends who know your every flaw and love you anyway. To pause to appreciate her life and her sense of humor and all things that were so special about her and will live on in my memories so long as I draw breath. And to openly admit that there is peace in dying and not just death.
I’m glad Teri had that peace. I’m glad she isn’t suffering anymore. And I’m so very glad she was my friend.
c 11/15/2006 Vicki Hinze