Tuesday, February 21, 2006

don't hold your breath....

People aren't inherently good. They're just not. So, don't hold your breath - thinking they'll do the right thing.

On January 10 of this year, my best friend passed away from liver failure due to untreated Crohn's disease. I have been having a really hard time dealing with her death. She lived with me, and we'd been through a lot. The closest thing to a sister either of us had was each other. She had no family here in Dallas - and only two really good friends here.

Up to Marla's getting sick, I'd say the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was calling my folks and telling them I was in a cult and I needed help to get out. But that didn't even compare to making phone calls to Marla's friends, co-workers, boss and those dear to her, telling them she was dying and if they wanted to see her, this was the last chance. Nothing prepares you to do that.

The funeral was a terrible experience... unfortunately it wasn't about celebrating Marla's life, it was all about the church she attended (Fellowship Church, Grapevine, Texas) and her life in that church. Every story, every comment, everything was about that church... and if you would have gone to the memorial service and not known her, you'd have thought her life ended 5 years ago when she took a trip with 2 friends from church. Her family wasn't a part of that church, her best friend Julie from High School wasn't a part of that church, and though I met Marla at Fellowship, I wasn't a part of that church any longer - Those of us who weren't members of Fellowship may as well have not existed.

I kept telling myself I didn't need anyone to validate my friendship with Marla. That's a lie, though. As she lay in the hospital (nearly 3 weeks), I kept dealing with being called "the roommate". Being asked to pack up her stuff. Being asked to do this or that errand for her or the family. I talked to her just about every day - visited her when I could - and was appalled that the first time one of the dozen pastors from Fellowship Church came to the hospital was an hour before she passed away (he couldn't get there when the call came in that she had only hours remaining, he had to finish some speaking engagement). Worse was that her family didn't even arrive until the last week she was alive. Her father left the day before she passed away, her mother and brother didn't arrive until after she'd died.

Her last hours - in that hospital bed, in a coma, the room filled with people who didn't respect her when she was awake, alive, full of joy - I held her hand tightly as those church folks talked about their record numbers from the day before... as one of them talked on the cell phone and made comments about how Marla wasn't a regular attender of the church and no one knew what to expect. There as they swooped in, and pushed me aside. Acting as if, all along, they were there to hold her when she cried after being kicked out of ministry after ministry, after a job fell through, after a boyfriend didn't work out, after sleeping in her truck - as if they were there.

Ugh.

And her family, they hate me. The main strike against me? I'm white. You read that right. I'm white. Her family doesn't trust or like white people.

But that didn't stop the family from putting me in the awkward position of helping them to commit fraud with the company that had lien on her truck (they told the company that she died in the truck and it was totalled). Didn't stop them from asking for favor after favor after Marla died.

It didn't stop them from neglecting to tell me that I was the sole beneficiary on her life insurance. They have known this for well over a month, and didn't tell me. The insurance company had to find me and tell me. It didn't stop them from making a comment to the insurance woman that Marla may have been under duress when she filled out the insurance forms (being that she lived with me, etc)

I don't even care about the fucking money. I don't. I just care that the one thing that Marla clearly spelled out she wanted happens. God help anyone who gets in the way of my making sure that at least one thing through this horrible event goes the way Marla would have wanted it to go.

But this, this insurance thing - in a fucked up way - I see this as validation. From Marla to me, to her family, to anyone who knows. Validation.

People have told me not to misdirect my anger. That her family is grieving too. That I shouldn't be angry with them.

But I am. They are bad people. They are crazy, bad, selfish people.

If they're expecting anything else from me - they shouldn't be holding their breath.
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5 comments:

sarah said...

I don't think you're misdirecting anger at all. In fact, I think you're showing quite a bit of restraint by not calling the bank or even the police to report the attempt at fraud. I know if I were in your place I'd be considering it. Clearly there's a good reason why Marla didn't want them to have the money - they're dishonest.

Dr. Zoom said...

Wow. Just ... wow. I'd say this qualifies as righteous anger.

Babs said...

Is this validation for you? Damn right it is. Without a doubt. Should you feel bad about it? Hell, no. Marla knew what she was doing, not leaving the money to her family. Good for her, and good for you for standing up for her, even after she's gone. " ::hugs::

Anonymous said...

you have every right to be angry about the entire situation..including being angry at your dear friend marla for not taking care of herself. it is out of your love for her that some of this anger stems.

what is beautiful and truely validating is that marla loved you and you were one of the most special people in her life.. which is why she left her final gift to YOU! don't feel bad about it, except it with all of the love you hold in your heart for her. use it to make yourself happy. use it for your musical future..use however you like.......it's is marla's gift to you.

*hugs* and more *hugs*
jenn

Canticles said...

You have done all you can and should do. Her family has proven how hypocritical, selfish and dishonest they are (not to mention CRAZY!) time and again. It's really unbelievable that the worst in people seems to come out at times like these... But Marla knew who her real friends were, and this is how she chose to express herself. Everyone else can get over it.