No Day But Today

We said goodbye to a lifelong friend this weekend and I am reminded to never hesitate to live, love and laugh.

The universe works in wonderful ways, connecting people in seemingly coincidental ways.

In Grade 7 English class, I first became friends with Jenny because we randomly sat together in Mrs Piazza’s English class with one of her longtime friends since kindergarten and a friend I had recently met, having just moved to the area.

30 years later, the four of us found ourselves together in Jenny’s hospital room in palliative care saying our goodbyes in her final hours.

She spent the last two years bravely battling cancer. I did not write about it as I didn’t want her reading and being reminded about her pain.

When I think about recent challenges we’ve had with T at school – he’s been having wonderful days recently – I always pray for T to have the kind of friendships I have.

I’m so blessed with lasting friendships, especially this group of grade school friends.

Our group has grown from the initial four and I never take for granted how we’ve stayed in each other’s lives – through grade school, high school, first relationships and heartaches, going to different universities, entering adulthood, first jobs, marriage, children, roadtrips and camping, the death of parents and pets.

Growing up, my parents told me it’s important to have friends that are good influences – and I want that for T, especially as his disability will make him especially vulnerable during adolescence.

I’m so lucky our friends brought out the best in me and each other. We were the nerdy kids that cared about school, that pursued extra curricular activities like leading the school newspaper and yearbook, and we had mostly wholesome fun.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday with Jenny and a few friends – and those that could not be there called in or sent messages that we shared.

She was sleeping peacefully and the doctor let us know that hearing is the last thing to go during death and that she could still hear us.

We reassured her she was not alone and we reminisced. We were never the sentimental types – and she’d roll her eyes at that kind of talk – but we told her we loved her and that we’re happy she won’t be in pain.

We let her know that we will all see each other again one day and that we hope that she will have the home to herself she’s always wanted and the cats she never got to have.

At 6 last night, my friend and I noticed a change in her breathing and appearance, so we said our final goodbyes so her family could have privacy.

As we left the room, so her family could go in, I struggled to untie my hospital gown. I had tied the knot so tight.

I asked our friend to help and she struggled too. Jenny was gasping heavily and my friend and I burst out laughing through our tears.

I’m known as the clutz who inevitably does something avoidably stupid. I explained to her family this was one last “Stupid Ab.” moment for Jenny to enjoy.

When I got home last night, the hubby and T were out at the movies, and I opened a can of orange soda and bag of chips and looked at old photos I had not looked at in years.

Memories long forgotten but felt fresh as yesterday when I saw the photos: countless birthday parties, Halloween and horror movie nights, New Years Eve celebrations, Survivor finale viewing parties, holiday get togethers. Weddings and the arrival of kids. Little children now teenagers and their parents once preteens now in their 40s.

When I woke up this morning, I saw an email from her mother confirming she passed away shortly after 11 last night.

I’m still processing the news but if it’s anything the last year, a year of many losses, has taught me, is that life goes on all around us.

I just finished baking a strawberry vanilla cake for the hubby’s birthday and will take T swimming this afternoon – the waterslide at the community pool is back up.

Life goes on but you never forget the people in your lives and we reassured Jenny as we were leaving last night that we will never forget her – and that our kids will know her too.

Every birthday, she gave T a children’s book – and through her impeccable taste in literature, we discovered the wonderful British author Oliver Jeffers.

I told her T recently started to read the books out loud to me after years of them being read to him.

Jenny also had impeccable taste in music – loved UK acts – and in high school, she was obsessed with the broadway show, Rent – even organizing a get together for friends to catch the show in Grade 10 and gifting me the two CD album one Christmas.

Our friends were wondering what song to play while we hung out with her in her room as she slept and someone suggested Rent and I then suggested one of the best songs from the show, “No Day But Today.”

Listening to the song again, it really is an apt reminder that life is short and there is no day but today to live, love and laugh.

Photo at top: A birthday cake Jenny and another friend assembled for a joint birthday celebrated by our other friend and I in 2006.

36 thoughts on “No Day But Today

    1. Thank you Faith. I am so fortunate to have great friends and whenever we read the books she gave T for birthdays, he will remember her. 💕

  1. May Jenny’s Memory forever be a blessing. I am sorry for your loss, Ab. Beautiful tribute to your friend and the blessings of friendships. And thank you for quoting music from one of my all-time favorites, Rent! True Words, No Day But Today!

    1. Thank you Vickie. My friends and I are finding that it’s hitting harder as the days pass. But we know this will pass in time. 🙏 Rent is such a lovely show.

      You just reminded me that I also caught the opening night of The Lion King’s debut in Toronto because of Jenny too. Such warm memories.

  2. Oh AB, I’m so sorry you have to say to say goodbye to such a wonderful friend! May Jenny rest in peace. Hopefully, all of the wonderful memories you have shared will help ease your grief. ❤️❤️❤️

    1. I was thinking about Jenny and my friends a lot in the past week and you are right, these friends are are hard to find and I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by these friendships. And I would hope indeed that she laughed and smiled in her final moments.

  3. How wonderful to have friendships going back so many years! Since I moved around a lot as a child, I didn’t make lasting friendships until high school, and only one of those is still in touch occasionally. Jenny sounds like a wonderful friend, and she was lucky to have you and the others with her at the end of her life. My condolences, my friend … I know how hard it is to lose a treasured friend. Hugs

    1. Thank you Jill. I moved around a lot from grade 2-6 when I first moved to Canada and so I was fortunate to place roots from grade 7 on in the same community and group of friends.

      We are so lucky to have known someone like Jenny. Today was a hard one for sure.

      1. Sorry my comment went as ‘anonymous’! I didn’t know. Yes, today was a hard one for you … no words any of us can say will take away the pain, but know that our hearts are with you.

  4. My deepest condolences. I’m sorry for your loss, Ab. But you’re right about what a year of losses has taught us: that life goes on all around us. While Jenny is no longer physically with us, memories of her will certainly live on. And it sounds like you had created a lot of good memories with her you can cherish for the rest of your life. Happy birthday to your husband! Such is life; on the one hand we mourn our losses, but on the other hand we celebrate life with the people we love the most.

    1. Thank you Bama. Today was very hard as it started to sink in. But as you said, life goes on and I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful memories to hang onto and that she will never truly be forgotten.

      And thanks for the birthday wishes. It ended up being a somber but meaningful birthday celebration. 😊

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss, Ab. Jenny sounds like an absolutely gem and I’m glad you not only had the opportunity to goodbye, but that Jenny’s final days were surrounded by love and laughter. Hoping your heart heals, and the T is always surrounded by similarly lovely and wonderful friends. ❤️

    1. Thanks Erin. Today was a hard day to get through but it was comforting knowing we got to spend not just the final day but so many wonderful years together. I do wish for the same for T to be as fortunate and blessed as I’ve been with great friends. 🙏

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend Jenny. I’m always amazed at people who have managed to stay in touch with friends from elementary school. Life does go on, as do the memories we keep near and dear to our hearts.

  7. Wow, Ab. I’m so sorry. As Back Roads said, you’ve had too many losses lately. You bring such wonderful perspective and the ability to be present for them. I’m sure Jenny felt blessed to have you reminiscing and playing music by her side. May she rest in peace – and may we all remember to cherish today! Sending lots of love!

    1. Thanks Wynne. Today was rough – actually the last while has been. 😆 But I get through the sad moments and have the happy good days because I do my best to put into perspective of how blessed I’ve been with friendships and loved ones.

      My friends and I truly believe she felt is by her side. There was certain clues that she heard us. And we’re gonna hang onto that. 😊

    1. Thanks Vicki. At the end, we are reminded of what matters most in life indeed – love and time spent with loved ones. 🙏💕

    1. Thanks Margie. It has most certainly been a lot of losses lately. Very hard but life finds a way to move forward.

      Also want to say it’s nice to hear from you. I have noticed your blog has been quiet and I hope you are ok. I can’t help but wonder how you and your family are impacted by what’s going on in the Middle East. Hope you are all ok. Take care.

      1. Thank you so much, Ab for asking. It is exactly why things are quiet all my blog…I can’t bring myself to write about travel, but I do write a lot of poetry. I really am consumed with disbelief, grief, frustration, and rage; not just because of what is happening in the Middle East, but here as well. I do appreciate you asking, not many did ❤️

      2. I’m sorry, Margie. It is very upsetting to see and hear what is happening and I agree it is upsetting how it is manifesting in our own communities. Sending you lots of hugs.

  8. My condolences Ab, and a virtual hug as well. You all gave Jenny a lovely gift by simply surrounding her with your love when she needed it the most…

    1. Thank you Ana. Good friends are priceless and I’ve been blessed with many priceless gifts.

      And I hope you are enjoying your time in Brazil. I’ve been reading about the record heat. Take good care.

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