Category Archives: Sickness & Health

Patient (Not!)

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Breast cancer has killed half the female members of my family. They
all fought hard but succumbed. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I
gave birth to sons! Now I have been diagnosed, and learning from
their example I have decided to make fighting it the single most
important thing that I organize my life around. I am a divorce attorney
and high enough in the organization that I could negotiate leave for
the full period in which I will be doing chemo and related treatments. I
know the toll it takes not just in the immediate period but also in the
recovery time, so I wanted to have absolutely no distractions while I
shifted everything in my life around this battle. I expect to return to
work, but not until I feel whole again, and probably after a vacation.
The problem: Everywhere I go, from synagogue to the supermarket, I
bump into people who want to discuss both my medical condition and
“just one quick question….” Which never is. I cannot believe the
rudeness of the latter and frankly consider anything except “Good
luck” to be more than I can bear. What can I say to deter unwanted
attention?

Patient (Not!)

 
Dear Patient (Not!):

I’ll presume that you are not shy or you wouldn’t do what you do for a
living. Two simple things you can say when people start to speak
beyond Good luck. The minute they start to wind up and launch into
anything legal, hold up your hand like a traffic cop. That should stop
most but sadly not all folks. Then say, I am on a total sabbatical from
the law so I can focus on getting healthy. If you want to talk about
anything related to it, please call So-and-so at my office who will take
very good care of you. Then turn away and start walking.

 
If people come up to you and ask about medical details or want to tell
you stories about their own or a friend’s experience, do the traffic cop
routine again, and say, I’m only talking about medical things with my
doctor and family. Thanks for your good wishes but let’s focus on other
aspects of life, preferably ones that are filled with hope. Walk away as
needed if they do not comply, and don’t worry what anyone says or
thinks.

Sobbing Sister

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My sister died in much more discomfort than necessary. She had
breast cancer for too long. She went through several rounds of chemo
early, and then it went into remission. We had a long good period of
time, but when it cam roaring back it came through everyone’s lives
like a freight train. I think we had all pushed it to the back of our
minds and were afraid to acknowledge that the change might not last.
In her last days she was in a hospital under a lot of medical care to
keep the pain and complications to a minimum. On her floor was a
very loud patient. I do not know what he was being treated for, but he
was clearly very unhappy with everything and made sure that
everyone in a big radius knew of all his complaints. We were trying to
keep Deborah’s passing gentle (think harp music and low prayers) and
this man was not just disruptive but a severe hindrance. The nurses
acted like we were being fussy until the complaints from other
patients’ families got loud enough and they finally moved him. I know
part of my anger is grief, but what can I do to make sure others do not
die this way?

Sobbing Sister

 
Dear Sobbing Sister:

In such circumstances, protecting the dying person is the single most
important thing.

 
Nurses have a great deal of authority but it is not unlimited. In the
future, should God forbid you encounter such circumstances, I would
do the following: Start with a complaint at the nurse’s station. Ask that
the disruptive patient be told to keep his/her voice down or s/he will
be moved into a room with a door that is kept closed. If that does not
work, start your way up the hospital food chain, both medical and
administrative. Ask each person to stand in the hallway outside your
sister’s room and listen for ten minutes to what other families are
being subjected to. That should be enough to do it. If not, ask your
doctor to request a room transfer to a different floor. As a last resort,
suggesting sotto voce that you prefer not to consult your attorney
should motivate almost any administrator.

Helpful

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My godson has had a rough time figuring out what he wants to do with
his life since he got out of rehab. He got a job in a restaurant. Nothing
fancy, just a sous chef chopping vegetables, prepping plates, and
learning the basic of the trade. Then he got a bout of cellulitis, which
made it impossible for him to be on his feet. His mother, now more of
an ex-friend than a close one, decided to “teach him a lesson” because
he had not signed up for health care. She told him he would be
responsible for all his medical bills, so of course things got worse when
he stalled on a doctor/ER visit. I heard about it mid-week, offered to
pay for his doctor bills, and now he is recovering, and even got his job
held till his return. She is telling our mutual friends about how I
“interfered” with her parenting. I clearly see this very differently. I
know gossip is hard to fight. But what should I do?

Helpful

 
Dear Helpful:

Teaching moments are important but generally we think of them as in
the non-life threatening side of the spectrum. If your godson really
had a medical issue that could have cost him his job, let alone his leg,
you were correct to step up and offer to help. His mom was wrong,
and could have found a better way of accomplishing her goal (e.g.
paying for the bills as a loan). We could talk all week about what’s
wrong with the medical industry in America, but when someone you
love is sick, you help them, and worry about the teaching moments
later.

 
You may never hear what is being said about you. But if you do,
simply reply: I love Godson-name. He was in trouble and I stepped up
to help. I’m sure Mother-name meant well, but given what he has
been through already, I thought it best to support his recovery in
every way I could. I’m happy to talk to her about it, if she’ll stop being
angry and gossiping about me. I suspect whatever moved this
relationship from close enough to be a godparent to ex-friend is deep
and profound. You don’t say how long ago it happened. Focus on
helping your godson unless momma really wants to talk to you.

Money Man

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m in the advice-giving business too, but people depend on me to
protect their life savings, which in these financially perilous times
means I have the burden of their fears as well as their expectations. I
need them to perceive me as smart, reliable, accessible, and
trustworthy. I also have a serious medical condition that has affected
my mobility in increasingly limiting ways. It is a multi-focal motor
neuropathy that it is possible, fingers crossed!!, an experimental
infusion therapy might reverse it but no one know if it will work or how
my body will handle it. I may need several series of these treatments
(five days in a row) and have no control of the timing. How can I
cancel my appointments without alarming my clients?

Money Man

 

Dear Money Man:

You need to communicate everything you told me in an email to your
clients. If there are particular people with very large portfolios you
may wish to communicate by phone as a follow-up, but telling the
basics in an email will allay a lot of their concerns and questions.
Here’s a draft: Dear ___[yes make it personal]___: I need to
reschedule your appointment for ___[date/time]_____. As you may
know, I’ve been coping with a complicated medical condition for the
past year that has impacted my physical mobility, though thankfully
not my cognition or insight. I have a tentative diagnosis of “multi-focal
motor neuropathy” (this means my muscles and my nerves aren’t
speaking well to one another). There is an infusion therapy treatment
option that requires a week of daily treatments, and no one can
predict how I will respond. How all this affects you: I’ll keep my
calendar as up to date as possible. Please reschedule from my website
[link] and I will try to provide you with a replacement appointment
quickly. It’s my intention to continue as your financial advisor as long
as you desire. My assistant [name/number] is available any time I am
out of the office. Thank you so very much for your patience and
support. Most folks will send a polite reply of support. The clients you
lose are not worth worrying over. Work with your assistant to keep the
good ones happy.

Flying Solo

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am newly retired and newly single at pretty much the same time. My husband
and I parted amicably, as such things go, because we realized we had very
different ideas about what we wanted to do with our newfound freedom. We
could have stayed together but honestly, after many sessions in counseling and
with one another, we realized that we were more excited about the idea of facing
life alone than together, with the proviso that if either of us really needed help, as
in facing a serious medical crisis, we would ask the other what would be
possible. So if we don’t find the new connections we hope to, there is some faint
hope of getting back together, though probably not legally, once we’ve paid for
the legalities of separation. My friends think I am nuts, especially the ones who
have been single for so long, and I think would love to find a nice guy like my
hubby. Once they know him intimately that might not be true, but for now they’re
talking about having my head examined. How can I explain that after forty years
of togetherness, I am ready to be responsible only for myself?

Flying Solo

 
Dear Flying Solo:

There’s an interesting knowledge gap in your question. You know far
more about your husband and your marriage than your friends,
regardless of what you’ve said over the decades, and the single ones
know much more about being single than you do. That’s a
conversation worth having, though perhaps not so quickly with a
“friend” who wants to supplant you in the marriage bed.

 
Being a senior single has its own perils and pleasures. Yes you are not
responsible for another person 24/7, which might be especially
onerous as medical complications increase. But like the great 30 Rock
scene where Alec Baldwin tells Tina Fey she might die choking in her
own home without anyone there to save her, the downsides of alone
are tangible and not always comic. If you are genuinely good buddies
you could suspend the “cleave only unto one another” part of the vows
and take some exploratory down time. But if you are both set on
freedom, then do all the legal niceties and do your best to keep it
amicable. I’ve seen it work, and seen it fail, but good intentions
matter. Tell your friends what you told me: It’s time. I’m happy. So is
he. Wish us well. And then go forth and do whatever it is you’ve been
longing to.

Tip Toe

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I care a lot about my friends. Perhaps that’s because all my blood
relatives are dead or live far away. So my fiends are the biggest part
of my life for social engagements and emotional comfort. When one of
us is sick, the others rally round. Lately I’ve seen “slippage” in a friend
that is part of a weekly bridge game. She seems to have trouble telling
a story (even one we’ve all heard before) and makes more mistakes
on a regular basis than we are used to. Her physical health seems fine
but there is a feeling of hesitation, like she is working very hard to
maintain the organization of her life and it is taking a lot more out of
her than she has on reserve. She was once a very accomplished
pianist but has stopped playing. There are more symptoms, though I
do not know if other people are seeing them and I don’t want to gossip
about her. Is there a delicate way to start a conversation about what I
am afraid is a serious decline in her mental health?

Tip Toe

 
Dear Tip Toe:

You can approach this overtly or covertly. Overtly would be to say,
gently, [Name], you seem more absent-minded lately. Is everything
ok or is something bothering you that you want to talk to someone
about? I don’t want to be an alarmist, but if this is health related,
better look into it sooner than later. More covertly would be to claim
you are having the symptoms that you attributing to her. Then the
convo goes more like, I’m concerned because I feel more absent
minded lately. I’m going to do some research, online and with the
relevant support groups. Will you please be my partner and ally in this
educational process? I want us sharp for a long long time!

 
If you have any connection with a younger relative of hers, you could
ask if they are seeing any signs of slippage. The family has a strong
vested interest in catching things early. But if you talk to any third
person, be it family or friend, know that it will inevitably get back to
her. So start with her to create a safe space, and then see what she
says. No matter what, it behooves all of us to know symptoms of not
only aging, which includes the proverbial senior moments, but of more
serious conditions. Aging has blessings and curses, but most f the time
they outweigh the alternatives.

Had It

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband just had his third surgery to repair a hip operation gone
badly. This has been a year of intense trauma for the whole family,
and he is going somewhat nuts and getting very depressed with
enforced inactivity. He feels old and useless and is grumpy most of the
time. The doctors have said he needs to walk five minutes but no more
every waking hour. He is not to lift or carry heavy things, climb on
ladders, ride his bike, and on and on and on. I have to go back to work
but am terrified to leave him alone. Last time when he was not fully
recovered he actually climbed a ladder to get something off a high
shelf. When I went ballistic, he said “I forgot.” Forgot!!! His hip has
destroyed our life. Who can forget? How can I enforce caution?

Had It

 
Dear Had It:

Short of an armed guard, you will be unable to control his activities
when you are not around. You can threaten him with installing motion
sensor cameras and a baby monitor. You can lock up the ladders and
paper the place with dire warnings. You can spend each night having
him review what he did each day other than his walking. But honestly
not much can compel a person to take better care of themselves than
self-interest.

 
It’s always hard to think long run when you think you are more fit than
your body really is. But a positive approach would be to plan fun
outing for “after you are recovered,” a phrase that should resound
through your house like “Next year in Jerusalem” does at the end of a
Seder. Every day. Morning and night, promise him a better future.

Earplugs???

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My mother was diagnosed with a terminal disease three years ago. At the time
she was given “one to three” years to live. We all became very indulgent towards
character flaws that have been driving us crazy all our lives, especially one that
over the last few months of holidays was enough to taint many family gatherings:
She hogs all the air time. She talks, whines, blathers, opinionates, and pontificates.
She does not allow anyone else to speak for more than a sentence or two before
taking over the conversation again. I love her and don’t want her to
be gone. But this is driving a wedge in our family. Her new experimental
medication seems to be working so well that now the doc says she could go
another five years. I can’t. How can I tell her the rules have to change?

Earplugs???

 
Dear Earplugs:

Regardless of what you say, you will need to do it compassionately.
We’re all dying, but your mother is old enough (given that you have an
adult son of your own) that she lives with thoughts of mortality every
day, augmented by a terminal diagnosis. Sometimes people need to
hear their own voice just to reassure themselves they are still here. So
what may feel like an extra burden to you and your family is also part
of the process of being a kind person, and needs to be viewed through
that filter.

 
I’d counsel a one-on-one to start. Take your mother out for a ladies
lunch, in a nice restaurant where raising one’s voice would be very out
of place. Explain very simply that you are delighted that her treatment
is working and she will be among the living for far longer than the
doctors had originally projected. Then say, But I think that when we
were afraid we would lose you far too soon, we all got into some bad
habits, that for the sake of family congeniality I’d like to amend.
Explain that her current habit of dominating conversations has become
a social liability to you and other members of the family who are
beginning to shy away from time with her, the opposite of what you
and she presumably want. Suggest that she expand her social network
so she has other social outlets, and say you’re happy to give her tips
on being a good listener as well as a good talker.

 
Don’t expect her to be appreciative. She may even pull rank as your
dying mother. Continue to profess your love, and set up a cue word or
signal that you’ll use to alert her if she’s crossed the line. It will take
time, perhaps more than she has. So be kind.

Fear of Flying

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband and I are headed out on a vacation. Just in the US thank
God so we don’t have to deal with all the hassles of passports,
customs, etc. But neither of us likes to fly (as in my husband threw up
in the bag before takeoff last time) and we are very concerned
because we were unable to get seat assignments together. Are there
magic words I can use to remedy this? I know it sounds trivial, but it
undercutting our anticipation about having fun. And don’t tell me not
to go: the trip is all based around my favorite niece’s B’nai Mitzvah.
We are going, puke or no puke.

Fear of Flying

 
Dear Fear of Flying:

One option would be to drive or take the train, but I’ll assume distance
and/or time preclude that. The simplest solution would be to call the
airlines, and if that fails, tell the stewardesses directly when you board
the same story you told me. She will almost certainly go to his
prospective seatmates, and offer them a chance to change seats with
you. The people assigned to sit next to your husband will likely both be
eager to avoid sitting next to the man who can puke before takeoff. I
certainly would.

Sad

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Help. My best friend has just been told that she has breast cancer. She hasn’t
told anyone else yet, including her family. She comes over to cry and tell me how
scared and confused she is. She seems paralyzed by the news, which makes
sense to me, but I know she needs to make some decisions, and soon. I want to
help her, but I don’t know where to begin. In addition to her husband, she has two
daughters (7 and 10) and his mother living with her. Everyone depends on her
emotionally to calm their troubled waters and they have no idea how much she
holds the family together. Her husband is an okay guy but he is throroughly
unequipped to do what she needs now. I’m scared too. Where do I start?

Sad

 
Dear Sad:

There’s nothing flippant to say about dying. It’s on everybody’s agenda, even if
we try to ignore it most of the time. You could be hit by a truck before you see
your friend again, or you could both live to be 100. Fortunately or not, we’re not in
charge of that aspect of being human.

 
Be glad she thinks you’re a safety zone. Don’t show her how scared you are right
now because she needs you to be the strong one for both of you. (You’ll have
time to scream later.) Give her space to talk, and to cry. Be her buddy, her
secretary, her right hand, and her ally. Encourage her to talk to her family asap.
Offer to be there when she does.

 
Then meet privately with her husband and talk about how you can help support
him. Encourage him to get some of his own friends involved inbeing his support
network, and to work with him on developing a network to help with family and
household issues and chores.

 
Help her sort through the incredible array of conflicting information about choices
that she will confront. Find her a cancer support group. Consider joining with her.
Breast cancer is not a death sentence, though fear can make it seem that way.
Help your friend organize her household so that everyone pitches in. Say “I love
you” often with hugs. The rest is details.

Wits End

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m at my wits end. My husband is, or more accurately was, a
contractor. In addition to working endless hours he did all sorts of
projects around our house. Like the cobbler’s unshod family, many of
those projects were only partially completed, and we always had last
place in line behind paying clients. Now, through an accident of fate,
we have a who-knows-when-but-big medical malpractice payment that
will pay for all manner of household assistance while he is
incapacitated (for up to a year because his joint replacement surgeon
royally ^&$^^%#ed up!!). Because some of these repairs must be
completed for us to be able to shower, I hired a contractor buddy.
Needless to say, Mr. Fix-It is not happy with the pace or quality of the
work, because this guy does what my hubby always did: juggling
many clients at once. But he cannot do the work himself. His body
won’t cooperate. He is angry, depressed, moody, and restless. It is
causing huge stress and undoing a lot of the work we did together in
counseling a year ago. I want to go back to the counselor to get help
to get us back on track. He doesn’t want to go because it would open
our records to the doctor’s insurance company. Is there a way to parse
this?
Wits End

 
Dear Wits End:

Call the counselor and explain the problem. I don’t think your previous
marital counseling should be any part of the medical malpractice
conversation. As the counselor if s/he can start a new file for you two,
one that relates only to issues connected to the surgery,
complications, and after-effects both on your husband’s health and
moods and your marital relationship, then that’s the way to go. If s/he
cannot, go to a new counselor, telling that person the techniques that
worked for you in the past. Warn them the records may be requested
for litigation.

 

One of the problems with a theoretical malpractice payout in the future
is that you are still paying all the costs upfront now, both emotional
and financial. Be sure to keep very accurate records of everything, not
merely of actual dollars spent to supplement the household duties your
husband is not able to perform. A log tracking everything from
household help to emotional issues would probably help your future
attorney. I’m assuming you’re not going to try resolving this without
one, but please consult one before you negotiate any kind of
settlement. There’s an entire area of law devoted to calculating the
damages such events impose. Pain and suffering is more than rhetoric,
as you are learning.

Ready to Write

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband has been disabled for nine months. His first hip surgery
went great but the second was a disaster. Only now, four plus months
after, has he been finally released to do physical therapy. I surprised
him with a weekend away at a B&B in the country, but it depressed
him more than anything. He was acutely aware of everything he could
not do, which are all the things he used to love to do: hiking,
mushroom hunting, canoeing, etc. He’s not a reader or game player,
and living with him as been like being tethered outside the cage of a
pacing tiger. I feel the waves of frustration emanating from him with
enough force to power a small nuclear power plant. I’m a teacher and
need my summer to decompress. What’s fair in terms of together time
versus alone time for me to do those kinds of things with more able-
bodied friends or to get away and write? He is ambulatory and if he
doesn’t try anything stupid like getting on ladders or going into his
workshop he would be perfectly fine home alone for a weekend. I have
an idea for a series of young adult novels and summer is my only
chance to get a leg up on trying this. I don’t want to feel like I am
abandoning him, but the past few years have seemed all about him.
When’s my turn?

Ready to Write

 
Dear Ready:

You shouldn’t just walk off with your laptop and wave goodbye. All
marriages are negotiations, and tougher times bring about harder
conversations. But yes you have the right to claim some of your time,
both at home and away. Both of you need to know he’ll be safe while
your attention is elsewhere. And he can diversify the people he spends
time with so you don’t feel chained to the cage.

 
Start at home after coming to some agreements about time. Say you
get three mornings a week and two afternoons. Or whatever works in
the schedule of PT appointments, gardening, and house chores. Agree
on the time that’s dedicated to undisturbed writing. He commits to not
interrupting you with the normal vagaries of life, and also to occupying
himself in ways that do not promote trips to the emergency room. You
commit to quality time together afterwards. Try it for two weeks and
refine the plan as needed. Work up to a weekend away, perhaps with
him having buddy time with friends for big pieces of it, so he doesn’t
get lonely and decide to do something risky. Before you leave get the
agreements on paper. Yes it sounds silly but might be enough to keep
him from climbing a ladder. Try it once. If it works, do it again. I’d
caution about asking him to read your early writing because he may
treat your laptop like a rival. Eventually it would be good to share, but
glide into it. He’ll be more fun again eventually.

Overwhelmed With Worry

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What can I do to help a friend who has just been diagnosed with ALS?
Her health has been declining for the past two years. She has gone
from a vibrant public figure to a woman who needs a walker to get
from her recliner into her wheelchair. Her husband is overloaded
already caring for his 98-year- old mother. She has no biological
children, but does have adopted grandchildren (long story). I am her
friend and neighbor and usually run quick errands for her like library
books (my office is a block away) and specialty items from a favorite
store. But now she needs more and more help every day, and I’m
concerned the people who have been bringing her meals etc during the
most recent spate of testing and treatment may fad away with this
news. She is very appreciative for help but also very frightened, and
there is so very much to do around the house and in the bigger
picture.

Overwhelmed With Worry

 
Dear Overwhelmed:

There are two levels of support people who have received a terminal
diagnosis need. And be clear, even if it is a slowly progressing form of
ALS, there is no cure at this time. That doesn’t mean that any one of
her friend or family might not go first, but the prognosis is of
progressive decline until death. So the emotional level of support,
among family and the inner circle of closest friends needs to be
addressed first. Because the disease is not linear or predictable, it is
useful to first establish big criteria of needs: assists with meal
preparation or companionship in the house in the earlier stages,
compared to assists with bathing, eating, etc in later stages.

 
Fortunately there are many websites set up to support exactly this
kind of situation. One I know best is caringbridge.org, though I am
sure others are also good. It allows people to identify specific tasks
(e.g. a gluten free vegetarian dinner for two on a specific date, of two
hours of housecleaning) and friends to sign up to provide them. These
sits also allow the patient to give medical updates to people who care
about her welfare. Ask your friend if she wants help setting that up,
and perhaps offer to be her site manager (or recruit one). You are
right that a long haul will wear folks down. But it takes a village to
support us all in hard times.

The Good Daughter

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My brother is addicted to pills, though will just get drunk if that’s all he
has. He has now lost her room in the house she was staying and her
fourth job as a nursing aide in a year. He relocated to my city to live
with our other, who is in the last stages of a terminal blood disorder,
though Mom has already outlasted the doctor’s predictions by almost
two years. Two points: (1) Mom is not supposed to drink, but often
they do that together; (2) David is “exhausted” from the move, and
wants to “take a month off to recuperate” before he looks for work. I
think he should not get a vacation but start putting out resumes today,
but both of them loudly told me off and said I was being “controlling
and judgmental.” I’m the responsible daughter who has to pick up the
pieces when they break things. Is there any way to avoid this train
wreck?

The Good Daughter

 
Dear Good Daughter:

In a word: No. You can try to ban alcohol from the house but addicts
always find a way to get their fix until they get clean and sober. You
can try to scare your mother with mortality, but if she’s already past
the doctor’s predictions she probably figures she can do as she
pleases, and who knows, maybe she is right. But it sounds like the
codependence will not help your mother as much as your brother.
Regarding the proposed vacation, your suggestion makes sense to me,
unless he needs the month to prepare for a pee test that would likely
be required to get a job. But even so, getting his resume together and
sending out letters and applications seems like a basic reality check to
reinforce the idea that he is there to help your mother, not live off her.
It might help to start with optimism when you speak to them, even if
you get heartburn and grit your teeth. But short of a miracle I think
you will be in this soap opera for a while.

Penny Pinching

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I was very good friends with a couple who moved to Hawaii twenty
years ago. We kept up a long-distance friendship for a long time, and I
even went there to visit back in the 90s. But for years it has waned to
the point of non-existence. If you’d asked me, I’d still say I liked them,
but I don’t think I’ve had two phone calls in the last five years.

 

Yesterday I heard from the wife, saying the husband had died of
cancer, after a year-long battle. It was a warm email, though in
retrospect it feels like she may have sent it as personal email to a
great many people, just changing the salutation. When I went to the
memory site (with photos and stories and places to post the same,
each page had a very large “Contribute” button at the bottom, to help
defray medical expenses. I’m sure the medical bills were large, but I’m
on a tight budget too. Am I obligated to contribute?

Penny Pinching

 
Dear Pinching:

If you are truly down to counting pennies you are 100% off the hook,
assuming the idea that you have not sent even $25 doesn’t keep you
up at night. If you do make charitable contributions to non-profits, you
could divert a little to send your former friends. But if you are truly so
bust that you cannot afford to contribute, then send a nice personal
note, and an apology for being unable to help out at this time.
Friendships ebb and grow over time. It’s not uncommon for people
who have seemed incredibly important to one’s heart to fade with time
and distance. There’s no shame in having drifted apart. Do what feels
right, and send a heartfelt note. If you have memories or pics to post,
do it. And say kaddish for your friend.