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Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow

I recently learned that my best friend all the way from the fourth grade passed away. She didn’t have cancer. She had the flu.

Regrets and heartbreak

I am having a hard time dealing with the news. For one thing, it was only a few months ago that we suddenly and unexpectedly lost our 43-year-old son. I still cry nearly every day over the emptiness that his death has left in my heart and in my life.

Fortunately, my son was a great communicator. Not a day went by that we didn’t talk or text multiple times. He always said, “I love you.” And, he would drop everything at the drop of a hat to come running if he got even a hint that his dad or I needed him. I can’t even begin to describe the pit in my stomach, the fracture of my heart, to lose him. But, I have no regrets. I don’t wish I had said something that should have been said.

Remembering our beautiful friendship

I wish I could say the same when it comes to remembering Patti. She and I lived a lot of life together as very long-time best friends. We had some awesome adventures together as kids, especially as teens, cruising in her green GTO all over West Texas. We were college roommates. And, as adults, she often accompanied when I traveled to DC or NYC for lung cancer advocacy meetings.

Always, Patti worried about the fact that I was sick with lung cancer. She was so afraid that I was going to succumb to my disease. How ironic it is that she died first. I didn’t worry about losing her — she wasn’t sick and she was only 64 when she passed. My larger-than-life friend and I should have had lots of years left.

And then we fell out of touch…

As different as night and day, Patti and I always knew we had each other’s backs. But, I was very hurt when, after I lost my son, she suddenly quit communicating with me. At all.

I didn’t try to get in touch with her either. I was so hurt that she wasn’t being the rock I needed. So, while I thought of her often and longed to talk to her, I steadfastly refused to reach out to her.

Patti’s birthday is in March. I had been planning to send her birthday greetings. I was going to use her birthday as an excuse to break the ice and re-establish communication. After fifty-plus years of friendship, I don’t really know why we needed an ice-breaker. Goodness knows, we had been through so many trials and tribulations together, we shouldn’t have needed a reason to get in touch.

My myopic attitude means that I will now never have the chance to reach out to my friend. I can’t ask her why she abandoned me when I needed her most … but I also can’t tell her how much her friendship had meant to me over the years.

Tomorrow is unknown

So, I write this blog to remind everyone that we do not know what tomorrow holds for us. I surely must be about to learn this lesson after suddenly and unexpectedly losing my son and my best friend from childhood within a few months of one another.

Don’t have regrets! Don’t let pride or anger keep you from saying the things you want your loved ones to hear. Some of us have cancer, but all of us are terminal. I think it is really important to remember that.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Lisa Moran moderator
    9 months ago

    I’m so sorry, Donna. Sometimes people don’t know what to do so they do nothing. Not a good coping mechanism, but it happens. I’ve heard others talk about family tension not being resolved before a death. Life is too short to hold grudges. I hope you can find peace with your friend’s death and forgive her.

  • Donna Fernandez moderator author
    9 months ago

    Oh gosh. I didn’t mean for it to appear that I had not forgiven my friend. What I haven’t forgiven is myself for not getting in touch with her like I should have, despite being hurt. I regret that I didn’t send that email or text or make that call sooner. And, I hope others won’t make the same mistake I did of waiting too long.

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