Way back in January of 2011 I mentioned that my friend and neighbor Anna had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She was diagnosed right before her 49th birthday. Last Friday was her 51st birthday. Her last two scans have come back completely clean.
On Thursday evening I was taking a shower. I picked up an empty bottle, cursed, turned off the water, and stepped out of the shower. My phone rang. It was Anna wanting to know what I was doing. She was impressed when I told her I was in the middle of a shower. "You answered your phone during a shower to talk to me!"
"Actually," I replied, "I stepped out because I needed more body wash."
"We are celebrating and you are two shots and one beer behind." I could hear Diva laughing in the background. It sounded like I needed to go join them. They were moving on to another friend's house. I finished my shower and met them there. I took two very small shots and drank a couple of beers. We all broke up and went home by 8:30. Parties don't last all night on Thursdays anymore. I'm not sure if it is being physically older or more responsible that brings us home early.
On Friday I picked up Jason's ashes at the funeral home after work. On the drive home I called my friend Grace to invite her to come have a cider with Jason & I. Jason and her son had been close friends. She is the friend I called to come sit with me the morning I found Jason.
One evening last February we were sitting in my house drinking a beer. I told her that I had admitted Jason's meth addiction to myself.
He had come home to help his dad move to Oklahoma. He was thin, pale and jittery. I had known for a month that he was 'occasionally' smoking meth, but finally I had to admit that he had a problem. He was cranky during the trip and had argued with Lane about everything.
She was the friend I told for a reason. Her daughter had gone through a meth addiction right after high school also. Now years later her daughter has a nursing degree, a great job, and an adorable 4 year old daughter. She quit without rehab, struggled to get healthy again, and is a great mom and person. She gave me hope.
Grace looked at me and said, "You are about to go through hell. You will come out the other side, but it is going to be hell." So many nights as I cried about the pain my son was in I thought of those words and they kept me going.
When we received my sisters ashes they were in a white cardboard mailing box. When that box was opened there was a completely sealed brown plastic box inside. That brown box has never been opened. One of the things I have been wondering about is how I would cut Jason's plastic box open to get out small amount of ashes for a locket without making a mess.
Before Grace arrived I decided to take Jason out of the mailing box and set him on the coffee table with a photo so we could toast his life. I was shocked to find a clear plastic bag full of ashes. I could see them. They were grainy, more like granulated sure than powdered sugar. I had to take a deep breath to compose myself. I left the bag in the box with the lid open and set one of his senior pictures on top so that we could see the gray of his ashes.
Grace and I split three ciders. I had them leftover from a Woodchuck variety pack I had bought a few weeks before. We poured them into glasses so we could split each cider in half since they were three different kinds. Our favorite was the spring cider. We toasted Jason with each glass and talked.