Wednesday, June 08, 2011


I was told today that Casandra's continual refusal to see a doctor(I'd been trying for many years, to get her to go for a check-up) came to an end when she stopped in at Hudson Grille (her watering-hole of choice) in Brookhaven, ordered a glass of white wine, and then, because her skin had (apparently, repeatedly)begun to crack and bleed(!!!), she headed off to the ladies' room, to freshen up. While there, two women noticed profuse bleeding suddenly coming from her abdomen, and thinking she was injured, called 911.When police arrived, they assumed she was a stabbing victim.In fact, Casandra said "No, I'm alright..." but police responded "Lady, you're bleeding, you're not alright.." she was taken to Northside Hospital, where she was treated, and it was discovered she had cirrhosis of the liver, and because her kidneys had begun to fail, even dialysis would not help.Two days later, she was sent to Hospice, where she remained for about a week, when she passed away on Monday, at 8:45 A.M., Feburary 28th(her on-line Obituary says March 28th, but I received this info from her long-time pal, Angie).Somehow, my own contact information was not discovered until a few days ago, so I had no idea that while we (my husband/husband's family) were wrestling with tremendous tragedies, poor Casandra was struggling with living....and dying.
I wish I could've said goodbye.I wish I could've held her hand and told her I was sorry that I nagged her about the doctor, about trying to drag her to a hospital, when she (repeatedly, for months) told me she was "throwing up blood".That I wish she'd read all the information I printed out, on cirrhosis, which is what I worried she might have.That I loved her for her, that she did not have to change, that she could be who she was--alcoholic and all--I just wanted her to be healthier, live longer.That I meant it--what I said about I didn't want "to have to see you die, Casandra, to be standing there, and watch them throw dirt on you;I'm younger than you, it's not right, Casandra...I will be angry, Casandra.Angry at all those people who drank with you, who never told you the truth, who never spent time with a sober you, Casandra."
When I asked her friend, Angie, if Casandra had asked for me, she said "No".
I was of course, deeply hurt, and asked again,"Are you sure?" she responded,"I heard she wasn't speaking to you..."
That was not true, I assured her. But what was true?
That in my frustration with trying to help her, I had, just weeks before this apparently happened, told Casandra "I don't want to hear from you, until you go to the doctor.I'm tired of you calling every few days, and telling me you are ill, you've thrown up blood, you're scared,and then you tell me you won't go to a doctor for even a basic check-up or tests, because you're afraid of needles, of getting your blood drawn.It is ridiculous, you're a grown woman, please Casandra, you're scaring me, you have to go to the doctor." (It should be noted that I offered AA, counseling, free clinics, trip to doctor and/or hospital, etc. She said no to all of these options.)
Many weeks ago, while I was juggling our many doctors' phone calls, and family phone calls, I was on the phone with my Mom, when there was a beep-in, and I glanced for just a second at the phone, and saw she (Casandra) was calling.I kept talking to my Mom, with whom I was discussing my husband's grave illness(see previous posts).I meant to return Casandra's call later that night, but I remember when I saw her name, thinking, angrily, that she was probably calling me, yet again, to simply complain about her feeling ill, and then she would refuse to address it by going to the doctor. Later, I simply forgot(overwhelmed with hubby's illness, demands on my time, unrelenting sadness over several tragedies.See previous posts here at this blog) until the following week.I never did reach her.
During the phone call in which her passing was explained to me,and suddenly in tears while speaking to her friend, Angie, I told her everything I've just stated here. That in addition to what I said, that I felt so bad, so guilty.That I didn't mean she couldn't call me. That if I hadn't been so tired/stressed/exhausted, I would've called Casandra right back. That I wished I had.
If there's someone you love, don't wait to tell them.Tell them right now.
Peace, kids.


Kent said...

To paraphrase……God doesn't give me more than he thinks I can handle. Sometimes I wish he wouldn't trust me quite so much.


Galen Pearl said...

I have a friend who struggled with addiction for years. I remember one time when I was standing at her apartment door banging on it because I knew she was doing drugs inside. I wanted to haul her off to the hospital. I was furious when she wouldn't open the door. I walked away realizing that she was going to have to choose for herself whether to live or die. She chose to live. But not because of anything I did or didn't do.

I have also lost several friends to depression/suicide. Again, even though I saw it coming, there was nothing I could do to save them.

There was nothing you could have done either. It is sad that you didn't get to say goodbye, but I'm sure she knew and still knows that you cared about her very much. I'm sorry for your loss.

Lisa Allender said...

Kent--EXACTLY.My words, in an earlier pentry at this blog, referencing dear ol' RC nun, Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Thank you, dear Kent. :)
Galen--You have no idea how much better you have made me feel, though I feel guilty saying so, given all the suffering you yourself must've endured.Your comment makes me feel not-so-alone, in handling Casandra's (obvious) choice to die.
My Mom--Demetra--who knew Casandra well, said last night on phone to me, "Lisa, you knew her 25 years; she knows how much you loved her.You told her many,many times."
I hope it was "enough".

Dave Dubya said...

Well, that should be enough for you to deal with for a long while. You are due some breaks here. Please find the strength of heart to know life will get better and joy shall return.

You're in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

true - we dont always say the things we really feel.

Thanks for sharing

christine said...

You did everything you could for her, Lisa. It's very sad, but it seems like she chose this fate, or at east the disease was more powerful than she was.

Lisa Allender said...

Dave Dubya-- thank you for that.
Pixies-- indeed.
Christine-- she really kinda did. Alcoholism is a helluva disease. :(

Michele Franco said...

Hi, my name is Michele Franco but I was known to Casandra as Chanel. She and I were very close in the late 80's and 90's. We lost touch with each other when she moved to New York and then rekindled our friendship, via phone, in the early 2000's. I had since married and moved to Puerto Rico. I lost touch with her again after I had gone through some personal hardships but I always kept her in the back of my mind. The last couple of years I've tried searching for her on the internet thinking she would be on facebook or something but nothing - untill today. Its been a few months since I searched for her and today I find your blog. At first I wasn't sure, then I read the line about the white wine, bleading and not wanting help. I knew it was her. Searching further I came across the photos. I am so sad, she was a big part of my 20's and we went through a lot. I was already missing her but always held out hope to reconnect with her - yet again. She is missed.

Michele (Chanel)

Lisa Allender said...

Michele-- I remember meeting you in the party days/daze of 1980's/ early 1990's. Please know that the last time I saw Casandra we flipped through her beloved photo album and she commented on you and spoke of how much she loved ya. I wish you much Peace in dealing with your loss. I miss her very much, too. I wrote of her in an earlier post here at this blog, too, and please feel free to friend me on Facebook, Chanel, if you wish.