Saturday, January 14, 2012


An old friend sent me a note last week, telling me that another old friend had died after a two year struggle with cancer. It was sad, in the way that hearing morbid news about someone you once knew is - oh, that is awful. Followed by a quick prayer for her children, and a fleeting thought of thanks for my own good fortune.

Along with the note came a link to a Caring Bridge journal, it's worth the read, my friend said.

When the link opened, I was surprised to see the girl I knew, disguised as a woman. Under the long hair and mature face, I could still see the very awkward twelve year old girl she'd been.

We were good enough friends in school. Occasionally, we'd go to each others' house, or chat in school. But mostly, she was a little bit of a know it all and separated herself from the rest of us. Because she truly was so much brighter than us all; her brain outstripping her body, and everyone around her. Looking back, I think it must have been lonely, having to sit there and listen to us natter on about leg warmers and armpit hair, when her mind was lightyears away.

I half expected the Caring Bridge journal to be written in that same matter of fact way she spoke as a child. And indeed, the first paragraph of every entry is a straightforward, clinical description of her medical condition. Then her voice abruptly changes, and she talks for several paragraphs about mundane things. About the animals she sees out her window, about her childrens' school and sports, about visits with family and friends. It's as if she's saying 'yes, yes, all this is wrong. But the rest of it, that is my life.'

I'm certain it was by design. I finished each entry thinking about what a wonderful life she had, how loved she was. She wrote with such clarity, and, without being overly sentimental, was so grateful. What a comfort her words will be to her children, to see that everyday their mother's primary focus, her great joy, was in the love she felt for them.

How many times must she have said to herself, I am 39 years old. I have three children and a husband who loves me. Every day I have with them is a gift.

I could say those very words, but I have the leisure of good health, the complacency of good fortune.

She was always smarter than me.


  1. It unnerves me every time I hear someone in our age range passing away. I'm already (silently) obsessed with death and dying so when it happens, it inflates that fear. We are all blessed to wake up every day - put on clothes, rush around, train our kids to be good people and love our lives. We should remember this when we're at the end of our ropes. Beautiful post Kelly.

  2. last week i heard about the passing of a classmate's sister. she was 38 and left behind a husband and two young children. my initial thoughts upon receiving the news -- one, two, three -- were identical to yours.
    it's so easy to forget everything we have to be grateful for until we hear about someone else who has lost, well, everything.
    many thanks for a post that directs us back to living our lives in gratitude, every day.

  3. I read an obit this morning for someone who used to live in my town that was dying from breast cancer. It had several charming anecdotes in one of the longggggest obituaries I have ever seen. So I searched the internet and came across the shocking news that the husband and wife had died in an apparent murder suicide. It appears that they had such great love for each other that they decided to go together. They were well known in Arizona because he was a radio personality, and they contributed to a lot of charitable events and causes, especially to dogs. The husband had a nickname for his wife of mixed American Indian and Jewish heritage: Poca-Hannukah

  4. I need her message tatooed to my hand. It's so easy to forget how lucky we are until we're not. Beautiful post.

  5. This is so sad and so true. I know in my head I feel like that a lot, but usually what comes out of my mouth is "Would you stop doing that to your brother?! What is wrong with you?!"
    Beautifully written.

  6. I'm sure she would have loved reading this post, very beautiful!

  7. So touching and so true. We know we should appreciate what we have and that we could lose it at anytime, but it's so easy to get swept up in daily life and not act on that knowledge. Thanks for yet another reminder.

  8. Thank you all. I wish I had known her as an adult, I think I would have been better for it.