Six years ago tomorrow, on February 9, 2006, Lisa passed away.
Lisa was a very good friend, one of my very best friends at the time she died. She had leukemia. Twice. And twice she beat leukemia. But as is the case with most leukemia patients unfortunately, you don't ever really beat leukemia. It goes into remission sometimes, but survival is practically unheard of. Lisa had survived it, but her body was so brutally wounded from years of heavy duty medicines, chemo, bone marrow transplants and maintenance drugs that it just finally 'gave out'. I don't think anyone saw it coming. I know I didn't. At about 4:30 that afternoon, Lisa crashed on the ER table and they weren't able to revive her.
I remember standing at my kitchen sink & hearing the news. I slid down the front of the cabinets & sat on the floor with the phone still in my hand and sobbed. I couldn't believe she was really gone.
I felt like I walked around in a fog for the next 24 hours (before the next crisis struck...more about that in a later post). I sobbed until I was physically in pain that night. I drove to the grocery store out of routine & habit, but I may as well have been drugged. I don't think I brought home any semblance of normal groceries. I had to pull over twice to throw up on the drive to and from the store.
I had to put it out of my mind & "move on" the next day because of that other crisis I mentioned, but Lisa's death haunted me for over a year. It took that long for me to have time to mourn her death, to really focus on it and feel the pain and see the hole Lisa's death left in my heart. It took at least that long for me to work through all the stages of grief. Sure, I had lost relatives before, but they were old people I had expected to lose -- usually after a lengthy illness. I had known of plenty people who passed away. But with Lisa, it was different.
She was my age. (technically, she was younger than me by a few months!)
She was my very close girlfriend.
She had 3 young children roughly the same ages as my own.
She had 2 girls & 1 boy, just like me.
She was a busy wife & mama.
She just wanted to get healthy & watch her kids grow up.
She was me in so many ways.
In essence, losing Lisa was the first time I ever really experienced deep grief over the death of someone I knew. I had been sad when my grandparents died, but with Lisa, it was much more personal. I think it was the first time that it was really crystal clear that death could happen to anyone at any time.
It still haunts me today that Lisa had JUST SAID to me a couple of weeks before she died that her biggest fear was dying & leaving her kids motherless. She didn't want to leave her husband wife-less, but she was more aware of how it felt to be mother-less. Her own mom had died. She didn't want that for her kids.
Eight days before she died, she reached out to a fellow leukemia patient's family whom she had gotten to know online & sent them a card when they lost their beloved wife/mother. (That precious husband shared her card with me when I emailed to let him know that Lisa passed away.)
Just a few days before she died, she asked another friend & I for scriptures to encourage her because she was feeling sad & depressed at the loss of this lady who had been her friend---sort of her sister in the leukemia battle. Seeing her die had left her feeling discouraged about her own fight to health.
Lisa died doing all the things she loved --- seeking God for strength & comfort, being a wife to Jerry, being a mom to Lori, Hayley & Aaron, being a friend to so many! I am 100% positive that when she died Lisa went to Heaven. I am anxious to get there one day & hug her and spend eternity dancing on the streets of gold with her. I know she is far happier where she is now than she ever was here on earth, but it doesn't change the absence in our lives.
Lisa, you will never, ever be forgotten. It was my very great privilege to know you in this life. You changed me and inspired me more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Until we meet again, friend..........
4 years ago