Sunday, January 26, 2014

The loss of a friend

The month of January has been rough to say the least. Back around Thanksgiving my friend and co-worker was put in the hospital and has been there ever since. My heart has been with her and her family the whole time. When I was home over Christmas I had a dream about her. Nothing major, just that we were back at work together. When I have dreams like that I tend to freak out as I fear it means the worst. When I returned to work I'd heard she'd been moved to Denver. I was going to go visit her while I was down there for work this weekend. Thursday night I had another dream about her. I walked in  to work and she was standing in our classroom and I ran up to her and gave her a big hug-- so happy to see her back.

Yesterday we had a work conference and at the beginning was when we got word that things were not going well and her time was limited. I did my best to get through the conference with my emotions locked up- let them slip a little bit but for the most part I did a pretty good job. Until I got to my car and just burst into tears. I think it was then that I realized my dream of hugging her would never come true. I am 29 years old. How is this something I am dealing with?! We are too young to be going through things like this.

I had made plans to hang out with some friends last night and mostly just wanted to lay in bed and cry, but I was talked into going out. We ate pizza, played games, drank wine and laughed. A whole lot. And it was just what I needed.

I woke up this morning to the text that I dreaded. Cassandra had gone to Heaven. I had to head into work. At a church. And keep it together. I really thought I could do it. And I suppose for the most part I did.... At least for the parts where it was important. I didn't cry during my children's sermon or while I was teaching sunday school. But the special music in service was "I Can Only Imagine" which sent me into a waterfall of tears.
It wasn't until after service that I discovered this was one of her favorite songs. God works in mysterious ways.

I had planned a balloon release for part of our youth group activity. A friend's little girl passed away a week ago and he'd asked that people send up balloons with notes so I decided to have the youth do that. In addition, I decided to also get a balloon for Cassandra and I'd send one up to her as well. It was game day and while the youth played Four Square and ate lunch I just sat in my office and cried. I felt bad because I hadn't really told any of them what was going on. But I think that was just what I needed. To be sad. To just sit and cry. Casey came in, despite me snapping at him earlier, and was asking what I needed and when he asked if I needed a hug I said yes. He told me to take my time and join them when I was ready. So after I cried some more, I pulled myself together, wrote my notes to Elise and Cassandra and went to get everyone and tell them if they wanted to write the notes, it was the time. I was so humbled by these kids. They immediately came into my office, wrote notes to a child they had NO connection to, and dealt with my emotional self. We went outside, I gave a little bit of a speech about both Elise and Cassandra (not really sure what I said, it was kind of an out of body experience), we took a picture and then did our balloon release.
The amazing thing as I watched the balloons float up into the sky was that they passed over the cross and I could hear the piano inside the church as it happened. It just seemed perfect. It was super therapeutic for me. 

When Cassandra went into the hospital, I never thought this would be the outcome. I really thought she'd come through and would return to work. It is so unbelievable. To the point that I'm not sure I even believe it now. I cry and cry, but keep hoping I'll just wake up from this nightmare. I've been so haunted by that dream I had on Thursday. My mom says the dream means that Cassandra knew I was thinking about her. And I hope and pray that is true. 

One of the last times I saw her, we were passing in the hallway and I told her how much I missed working with her. I have such fond memories of our mornings together with the kids. We were both kind of goofballs and loved to goof off with the kids. We loved to play red rover and do relay races with them. She was so great at coming up with ideas when things didn't go exactly as they were planned. I'll miss hearing her sing "baby shark" with the kids and just laughing with her. 
Halloween 2012. Mario and Princess Peach

I'm still just in shock. I'm devastated for her husband, her 3 children, her family, friends, and everyone who was blessed enough to know her. 

Rest in Peace Cassandra. Miss you already
"Borrowed Angels" by Kristin Chenoweth

"The Shape of You" by Jewel

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