(30 Days of Truth – Day 19 – Something that shook your belief system to its core (a big disappointment in your life)
Tonight’s blog is going to be a slight continuation on yesterday’s topic of how a random person has impacted my life, as well as touching on today’s subject of something that shook my belief system to its core. For everything that Melissa has been to me, Jane (not her real name) was the opposite.
I met Jane on that same trip to Chicago but I met her at the airport while we waited to board our plane. The company I had recently been hired by had told me that there would be two of us traveling together from the south Alabama area and we were on the same flight. Dothan has a really, really small airport so it wasn’t hard for us to find each other. The minute I met Jane, I fell madly in love with her. No, not the romantic kind of love but we both felt an immediate connection. We didn’t stop talking from the moment we first said hello until we settled into our respective hotel rooms that first night.
Over the next 10 days Jane became my mentor, confidant and fellow mischief maker. We laughed and we even cried during some of our talks. As each of us struggled through some areas of the training, we were there as each other’s cheerleader. She told me all about her family back home, husband and four boys with the youngest a high school senior at 17 years old. She clearly loved her family and talked a great deal about her boys and her life back home. She was even a writer for a national magazine’s regional publication so I thought that was way cool. I had never met an actual published writer back then. And just as with some of the other women, we vowed to stay in touch when we returned home.
The first red flag that I completely ignored was waving brightly in front of my face on our flight home from Chicago back to Dothan, by way of Atlanta. There was bad weather and we were very delayed leaving Chicago. That would normally not be a problem but our connecting flight from Atlanta to Dothan was the last one that Friday evening and there wasn’t another until noonish the next day. Jane and I contemplated several alternate plans in case we missed our flight but none of them worked very well for me because they all required me spending money that I didn’t have. About 30 minutes into the flight, Jane leaned over and said, “I’ll get us home”. I was reassured and settled back to relax.
What I didn’t know was HOW Jane was going to get us home. She faked a seizure. Well, not a full blown one but enough to convince the flight attendants she was having one. It was a good 15 minutes into her act that I realized she was faking it. I heard her explain to the attendants that she was out of her medicine and must get home that night. I was so shocked and speechless at what I was witnessing that I didn’t know what to do. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. She was so convincing that the pilot had called ahead to Atlanta and they held our connecting flight. As soon as we landed, the attendant made an announcement that there was a medical emergency and for everyone to remain seated. They then directed Jane and me off of the plane and into a waiting pickup truck right there on the tarmac. We were whisked away to our connecting flight and made it home to Dothan with only an hour delay. Jane and I said goodbye at the airport but I was still reeling from what had just happened. I have to admit that a huge part of me was so happy to be home that it became easy to forget what she did. She never admitted to me what I knew had happened but I never asked her about it either. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.
Jane and I continued our friendship for the next few months. We would spend hours on the phone and even visited each other in person on occasion. She became like a big sister to me and I cherished this new beautiful, strong, smart woman in my life. She was quickly becoming the ideal of what I wanted to become someday. Jane and I even made a plan for a roadtrip together. Remember the Tampa/Miami trip I mentioned yesterday. That was supposed to be a trip with Jane to Tampa then Miami with Melissa and we were meeting up with another friend from Chicago. It was going to be such a fun reunion.
I think it was late September that I received an email from Jane. It was relatively brief and completely rocked my world. She said she had gone to the doctor for some tests and that her breast cancer was no longer in remission. She said she was going to Birmingham for hospitalization and treatment and was leaving immediately. She wrote she was very distraught and didn’t want to talk to anyone so please don’t call or try to contact her during this time. She would be in touch with me in about three weeks. Oh and she wouldn’t be able to make the trip with me. I was in shock, complete and absolute shock. You could have blown me over with a feather. This woman that I had grown so close to over the previous months was about to battle cancer again and there was nothing I could do for her. Unfortunately for Jane, I’m not that easily dismissed. Of course I tried calling and left numerous voice messages. No answer and no returned calls. The next morning I got in my car and drove the 40 miles to her house. I called on the way to give her notice that I was coming but all I was able to do was leave another voicemail.
When I arrived at her house I knocked on the front door. To my complete surprise, she answered the door. Her eyes were red and swollen and it was clear she had been crying. We hugged for so long. We just sat on her stairwell and cried and hugged and talked and even prayed a little. She was scared but optimistic at the same time. She shared the doctor’s prognosis with me and it wasn’t all that great. She mentioned the treatment she was receiving was going to require isolation so she would not be able to talk or write to me while in Birmingham. I was so scared for her. At one point, she left the room and came back with an envelope. Inside the envelope was about $100 cash. She said she felt terrible about not being able to take the trip with me but she wanted to make sure I went and she knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it without her financial assistance. I refused to take the money but she was so adamant about it. I could tell I was fighting a losing battle so I quietly took the envelope with the intent to return it to her later. We said our goodbyes and I wished her well with her treatment. I also said a silent prayer as she closed the door behind me.
I think about a week passed by before I couldn’t stand it anymore. My heart was hurting for her and I needed to know how she was doing. I called her cell. No answer but I left a voicemail. I called her home. No answer. I didn’t leave a voicemail at her home number because I assumed the family was in Birmingham with her. I think another week passed and I was out of my mind with worry. I had to know what was going on with her. I called both numbers again but no answer. I then called the hospital to see if by chance they could connect me to her room. They told me they did not have a patient by that name. That sort of made me happy. I assumed she had been discharged. I began calling her home again. After another couple of days I was frantic. I called her home and left a message on the answering machine. A few hours later my phone rang and I was ecstatic when I saw that familiar number on my caller ID.
Male voice. “Is this Lee?”
“Yes, is this Jane’s husband?”
“Yes.” “I’m calling to find out how Jane is? Is she home? Is she ok?”
“Isn’t she with you?” said the husband.
My heart sank. I played every scenario I could think of in my head at that moment and nothing was making sense. I explained that Jane was not with me and that I had not spoken to her since she left to go to the hospital.
I think it was at that moment both of us knew something was wrong. We began to chat and compare the stories Jane had communicated to each of us. There was no cancer. Jane was not sick. Jane was supposed to be with ME in Miami on a work assignment.
Jane’s husband and I ended the call but we both knew so much more had ended during our 10 minute conversation.
Days later I received an email from Jane. This email was very long, very detailed and very revealing. Apparently Jane had been involved in a 20-year affair with the man that was actually the father of her 17 year old son. She explained how they had spent the previous couple of weeks together and how wonderful it was. She told me how her son knew everything and thanks to my call, now her husband did as well. She felt somewhat relieved by that. She wasn’t sure of what her future held but she felt I deserved to know the truth. She did not have cancer. It had all been a lie. The tears, the prayers, the stories were all lies. This woman that I wanted to be just like had shattered my heart in a way that no man has ever come close to doing. She crushed my soul and left me spinning with confusion, hatred, and disgust. It was a really long time before I stopped crying every time I thought about Jane. I loved her and trusted her but she didn’t care about anyone but herself and I’m still not sure I know how to reconcile that in my heart.