So let me tell you about Felicia…

02Nov06

A year ago I received probably the most shocking phone call I’ve ever had. I was just about to sit down to watch a movie with my family when the phone rang. I saw on the caller ID it was Felicia’s phone number, and I hadn’t talked to her in quite a while so I thought I better take it rather than let the machine get it. I told my family to go ahead and start the movie.

The conversation started pretty normally… “How’ve you been?”, etc. She sounded fine, her same wonderful laugh and smart-ass comments. Then she told me she had some hard news… I’ll get to that in a minute.

I met Felicia in 1998 when I was working in the front office of a family practice clinic. We both started about the same time, and sort of trained ourselves. We were separated from the rest of the office in a little booth for the patients to come to to pay their co-pays or whatever. I’m surprised we weren’t fired because all we did was laugh our asses off. She was a temp, and eventually left, but we remained friends and over the years I ended up working with her at 2 other jobs.

Sometime in 2000 she went on vacation with her boyfriend. She got pretty sick, but didn’t want to go to the doctor or hospital. It turned out she had strep throat. But, once she got back she seemed to get healthy and everything was fine.

A couple of months later she was always tired and achy. Doctors tested her for several things, including Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Finally she was diagnosed with some rare kidney disease that she pronounced for me once but don’t ask me what the hell it is now. Basically she didn’t have the strep throat treated quickly enough, and it attacked her kidneys. She had kidney failure.

In 2001 I left Colorado, and I gave her the longest hug and cried and told her to take care of herself. We kept in touch through cards and on the phone, and I would visit with her when I went back to see my family and such.

She was on steroids and other medications for a while, which would make her swollen and miserable. Eventually she started dialysis.

When she called me a year ago, she told me she was going to die. A few weeks earlier she had gotten an infection, and the doctors just weren’t able to cure it. So, she was going to have a benefit dinner for her daughters (she was a single mother to 3 girls ages 15, 14, and 13), then stop dialysis and let nature take it’s course. Felicia was 31.

She sounded perfectly healthy, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Sometimes I still can’t. Sometimes I think she just told me that because she had to join the witness protection program or something. I mean, it’s not like she dated the nicest guys. We used to joke that one of her dating requirements was that the guy should have a stab wound, or that her phone number was written in every cell at the county jail.

Our conversation was actually pretty normal for us. She’s always been witty and snarky, and we laughed a lot during that last talk. I never wanted it to end. She told me about a magnet she got for one of her older nephews that said “I love you with all my kidney”…. “Get it?”, she said, “because my kidney is dead!” That was just how she was. And, of course she told me that this wasn’t goodbye, because I would be in hell with her someday.

Anyway… so she’s on my mind quite a bit right now, and I just thought I’d share some thoughts about her with you all. Sorry if this was a downer, but really she was such a great friend and we had so much fun together, and it’s nice to remember her 🙂
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