A woman reaches out to a friend who is shrouded in darkness

Grief Is My Dark Passenger

Having a serious illness in this age of social media, it’s not uncommon to form friendships with people you would never have met otherwise. Over the years, since my MBC diagnosis, I have not only formed friendships but forged strong bonds that felt like we were close family members. In the nine years of living with MBC, I have had two such people that fell into the family category.

When you know, you know

I have been fortunate to have been involved with different advocacy projects and organizations. It was one of those projects I was involved with that I met Tori Geib in 2017. After the first few conversations we had, I knew Tori was special.

There was something about her that made me really get to know her. I can’t even put my finger on any one thing about her that drew me to her. There were so many facets to her as a person.

Tori and I could talk for hours. We talked about anything and everything. Each time we talked, I learned something new about Tori I hadn’t known before. We finally had an opportunity to see each other in person in the fall of 2017. We both attended a conference in Memphis. The conference was a learning experience but that didn’t stop us from having a blast, too.

It was after that conference that we began talking every single day. If it wasn’t a FaceTime call it was a phone call. If it wasn’t a phone call it was text messages. On the rare occasion that I hadn’t heard from her, I knew something had to be wrong – either bad news about a scan or worse, she was in the emergency room.

The begining of the inevitable

After Tori’s first line of treatment failed her, she had progression after progression. It was never just one little spot either – each time it was very significant. Tori always took it in stride after she had a bit of time to digest it and be upset. In the back of my mind, I knew how this would turn out. I just refused to think about it.

I convinced myself it would be OK, that Tori would be OK. It’s a coping mechanism I learned to hone in the last three years of her short life. That’s what my therapist told me anyway.

August 2021, was one of the last times Tori was hospitalized in the ICU. She asked me to come to see her. I was on the road within 24 hours of her request. I lived with her in her ICU room for almost a week. We joked that spending time with each other was better than any chemotherapy.

Our last time together

I saw Tori for the last time in October. She had been admitted to hospice. A large part of me didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to remember her that way.

I wanted our fun memories to remain intact. The time I met her in Columbus, OH, and helped her with an important event of hers. Our trip to Cancun. It was EPIC. Horrible friend, right?

When I spoke to my therapist, she reminded me of the regret I would feel and the feeling of not having closure. Ultimately, I went because of one of her texts that said: “Come soon.” I was not going to let her down when she needed me the most. Tori being Tori, made sure someone would be at the airport to pick me up.

Experiencing loss

Tori died on November 1st. I was with her. That night is forever burned in my brain. If I am being honest, I hate that I have the memory of her taking her last breath. I do.

One thing I know for certain, for as long as I have left on this earth, I will always feel the loss of Tori. When she died, she took a part of me with her. The grief I feel from her death is like a weighted blanket I can’t take off. It’s suffocating and heavy.

Even in my happiest moments, I’m grieving the loss of Tori. She’s the person I would go to first with news of any kind. My life has been and will be bittersweet without her.

I have accepted that grief will be my dark passenger until my last breath. They say you learn to live with grief; that it gets easier. It doesn’t get easier. It won’t get easier. 

Tori made my life better by knowing her. Living without her has left an empty space that will never be filled; never closed.

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