Cancer Stole My Friend Too Soon

My friend died last weekend. My heart is heavy. Christine was such a beautiful soul. Thoughtful, kind, warmhearted. Far too young to part already. She leaves behind 3 children - beautiful reflections of herself -whom I had the privilege of teaching.

Cancer crept up insidiously. She had shortness of breath. She felt run down.

Aren’t all dedicated teachers?

She left school one day for a doctor’s appointment; she never came back to class. Instead she went to war in the cancer ward. The diagnosis. The deception. The despair. The carnage. The crusade.

She fought her battle against leukemia so gallantly. After the first rounds of hospitalizations and chemotherapy, she went into remission. When cancer reared its ugly head again, she returned to battle. Her sister selflessly donated her bone marrow for a replacement. More hospitalizations. More isolation. More pain. More anxiety. More anguish.

How hard to believe you are getting better when your body weakens from the endless fight?

All that effort bought her a little more time before she succumbed to an infection that attacked her heart. Her heart. Her generous, loving heart.

Who among us has never lost a loved one to disease?

Cancer is especially cruel. It attacks the self. It can only be beat-sometimes just temporarily - by knocking out the immune system leaving the victim vulnerable to the very air breathed.

She left us with a bittersweet reminder we only have today. And treasured memories.

I have so many. She once baked my favorite carrot cake and brought it to our department meeting for my birthday. When I couldn’t drive, she picked me and took me to one of my retirement parties. Years later, wearing a knitted cap to hide her bald head, she swooped in to carry me off for coffee where we lamented our fight to survive.

After my brain surgery, I looked to her for inspiration. I saw how hard she fought with so much grace and dignity. I thought if she can prevail, so can I. And so we faced another day.

Until we didn’t.

Now she is no longer here. A good person gone too soon. I never had the chance to say goodbye.

She lent me books and lesson plans, shared smiles and stories, offered rides and meals. She gave me laughter and joy.

She brightened my days.

Now I mourn for her children, her husband, her sister, her parents, her colleagues and friends, all who feel her passing as an ache that will not subside.

I miss her already.

Rest in peace dear friend.

You left behind the best kind of legacy.

You were greatly loved.

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Posted in family, health, inspiration, relationships.

16 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss Pat. What a beautiful tribute to someone who sounds like a truly beautiful person—inside and out. Thank you for reminding us of how precious life is every single day.

    • Thanks for your kind words Tina. I look to you as an example of how to live life to the fullest each moment and appreciate each day!

  2. Oh Pat I’m so very sorry. She sounds like a wonderful light in your life and I hope memories of her will always shine in your heart.

    • Thanks Maria,
      She was a wonderful light in so many peoples lives. And she will always shine in my heart.

  3. I think all of us, by the time we reach this age, have lost a dear friend or family member, and/or have had someone who battled and won.
    Thankfully, any “special someone” that touches our lives, our souls and our heart, never truly leaves us! Their love and goodness lives on in their loved ones, students, and dear friends! I’m sorry for her family’s loss, and yours. Hugs!

    • Thank for your kind words and the reminder that some have managed to beat it. My friend’s loving spirit will live on in us who knew her.

  4. This was your beautiful good-bye, Pat–to honor her in your message that people all over the world see and relate to. You shared your friend’s spirit and joy with people who had never met her, so now we have bee blessed to have a small glimpse of her strength and goodness. She lives on in you and all who loved her, and now she is remembered by even more of us. She lives on. May God bring you His peace which passes our understanding. Much love and many prayers, Sheila

    • Oh Sheila thank you for your inspiring words. They have brought me so much comfort and I will reread them many times in the days ahead to give me strength. My heart is especially broken for her beautiful family.

  5. Oh, Pat, I’m so sorry you lost such a good friend! This is a beautiful tribute to her. I do know what you’re saying, too — my dad passed from cancer 13 years ago. Such a wicked disease, robbing people of family and friends while stealing a person’s life too soon. Hugs to you during this trying time, my friend!

    • Thank you for your kind words and hugs Debbie. I am so sorry for the loss of your father. Even though, he passed years ago, I am sure you still miss him today.

  6. Dear Pat,

    I trust you remember me as your student alongside being in Christine’s English class. Your passage is very beautiful and heartfelt. I am very sorry to hear about Christine’s passing. She was so lovely and I will always remember how much she helped me in English. Her patience and kindness had a huge impact on me and I remember improving so much while under yours and her teaching. Her shoes will be very hard to fill. I am very sorry for your loss and I wish you a lot of strength in your grief.

    • Of course, I remember you Guilia. You were one of my favorite students. It was so thoughtful of you to write and extend your condolences and kind words about Christine. She was such a beautiful person, an exceptional teacher, a wonderful mom and a great friend. She will be greatly missed. Please keep in touch.

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