Eighteen months ago, I scrolled through Facebook in a moment of boredom. Doing the typical liking a post, commenting on my friends’ moments, when I got super excited to see that a friend from high school was expecting another little one. I went to comment “Congrats, this is so exciting,” when I read more.
In what should be a happy and joyous moment, she had also found out that she had breast cancer. At that moment my heart stopped, and all words left my head. I saw a teacher, mom and individual who was the same age at me stepping up to fight the biggest fight of her life, while newly pregnant.
In that moment I still sent her words of congrats, but also words that we had her back.
Looking back I had no idea but should have, that I was about to witness one of the most inspiring, awe-inducing journeys of my life. In what should have been a moment of indescribable devastation in her life, she stood up and said, “It is only fair that I share my journey so that others will know they are not alone….”
Over the next many months, there were moments of highs and lows. Treatment was started and showed signs of serious improvement, only to be followed by the loss of her little one at 18 weeks. Yet she never wavered. She fought with everything she had, while simultaneously posting every raw moment and reaching out to support others who were in a similar fight. She was the person that could make you laugh and cry all within a two-sentence post.
I found myself often in utter amazement at how strong and how transparent she was in all moments, big and small. People from near and far banned together to support her and her young family. Her young students came up with a shirt design so they could sell them as a fundraiser. Students from near and far sent her messages about the impact she had on them, and throughout it all, she walked with GRACE. Never even acknowledging how inspiring she was to so many.
Remission came and went. In December, the cancer returned with a vengeance of epic proportions. Yet fought on she did. She, along with her family, stood up against cancer and said, “Not today sir, not today.”
Then a post came that none of us wanted to see.
Treatment wasn’t working… and she was preparing to leave this world for her next. Even in this moment, she chose to go out on her own terms. She deemed it her farewell tour, and boy was it. There were parades, and videos and so much love. She ate cake and ice cream with her boys for breakfast. People from all over sent stories, photos and memories of the amazing stamp she had left on their lives.
While she is no longer here, the legacy she left behind is one for the record books. In a moment of pure amazement, after a parade was held in her honor, she wrote that she wished everyone got to die like she would. She referred to her end as magical and full of peace. In one of her final posts, she thanked all of us for the love and support, never realizing that it was she who was teaching us how to live so that when our time comes, we can hopefully leave this place with as much peace and joy as she did.
Your road may have come to an end friend, but your story is far from over.