My friend’s name was Maya Trivedi. She was a young, happy, beautiful, smart young woman with big plans and big dreams who wanted to make the world a better place.
But her lungs didn’t work. Not like they were supposed to.
She was diagnosed to die within a year but she stubbornly held onto life for many more and she became my friend.
When she wasn’t doing chemotherapy or some other sadistic torture the doctors wanted to “try” to use to cure her she died her hair purple or pink. Being of Indian descent but having been abandoned as a baby because of some inauspicious sign she ended up in America. And the first time I met her I cleaned her house and cooked a meal for her. She encouraged me in everything I did. She had a little dog named Sunshine who was her dear companion and friend besides the streams of visitors from people from church.
Sometimes though, Maya’s needs weren’t cared for. But her oxygen machines and tubes were enough of a call to arms that people from our church felt obligated to help. I feel like that with all people if we can see the mark we feel we should help but if it the mark is…deeper within, we choose to be blind. Christ promised someday the blind would see. But for now He is the only one who sees and the only way we can see.
Leaving her home with arms laden with cookbooks of recipes to try and promises of another visit soon. The smells of Indian spices in my nose. Remnants of Hindi echoing in my ears.
I remember the day I found out she was gone. It hit me as a much harder blow than anything else except maybe losing my dog. It was like a ray of sunshine and light had gone out of my life when I had so few left. KT was gone. Angel was gone. And Maya was gone. My nights were full of dark dreams and my days of loneliness and pain.
I had lied to her the last time I visited and cooked for her and said that everything was fine with school and I was a bit stressed but it would be okay. My clothes didn’t fit and occasionally as I moved around the small kitchen listening to the chatter of her mother and the happy shouts of Sunshine racing around the house to play with the visitors I would have to reach down and pull up my jeans. I cooked wonderful food that day. I had painted Maya a mural painting of Hawaii so that even though she could never come visit me in Hawaii in life she would still “see” a piece of it through me. She loved it so much.
While I was cooking my mom had gone into a small room to talk with Maya. We all knew she was dying. Her heart was finally overtired fighting illness and pain and exhaustion for so long. She had little left to give and needed to be freed of her pain. I knew but did not say. I hoped for a few months. I was looking forward to sharing college with her and my happiness for a few months more.
But life doesn’t work like that.
When my mom retreated into that small room with Maya, who had her pink hair and pastel purple gelled nails, wearing a grey shirt that said Happy across the front, they talked a little about me. My mom didn’t know much about what was going on with me but Maya knew. I didn’t tell her but she knew pain when she saw it. She told my mom she was preparing to leave soon and she promised to be my angel.
I bet she’s a beautiful angel. She was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known, not only in face, but in heart. I miss my angel a lot. Some songs remind me so strongly of her… I play them and sing them when my heart is lonely for one of my best friends who is bittersweetly departed from me.
She gave me a blank cookbook to fill last time I saw her, along with the memories tinged with India and love and life and spices.
I feel her closeness. Her absence. Every time I hear Hindi or smell spices or cook for someone I love she’s there. Her angel’s wings brush against me sometimes and she is the most beautiful angel. I miss her so much.