My wife’s friend passed away this morning after a battle with cancer. I was not close with her, but I met her through my wife these past several years and we hung out and got to know each other enough that I am proud to call her a friend.
A few years ago, we went camping with her, and created these really weird and funny memories with this weird and funny Uncle who was also there. Sometimes you just need to spend a trip, even one as short as this one, and the jokes linger on and become a great thing to bring up every time you see each other. We laughed about the trip every time we bumped into each other.
My wife and I attended her wedding last year, so finding out that she had gotten sick soon after that was a huge shock. After finding out about the news, I thought about her a lot. I got updates from my wife on how she was doing. Sometimes it was positive, other times it was painful to hear, but I always held out hope that things would take a turn for the better.
I always felt there would be a way out of this for her, that she would feel better and recover, because I didn’t want to think that something like this could happen to someone like her.
When I say that she was the nicest person you would ever meet, I want you to know that I’m not speaking in clichés, or just mourning a friend by remembering her in the best way possible. She really was. No one should have to go through what she did, but especially not her. I believed in things getting better because I didn’t want to believe in the unfairness of it all.
I got married last December, and I remember on the night before our wedding day, she had liked one of our Facebook status updates from Maui where we were having our destination wedding, or she had commented on something my wife wrote. She was in good spirits, and I could tell that she was keeping track of our trip and was very happy for us. It made me happy, it also made me really sad.
After we returned to Toronto and before my wife left for New York, we had a chance to visit her. When I saw her, I wanted to just break down and cry, and to just give her a hug, to hold her hand, to do anything to let her know that my wife and I were constantly thinking about her. As little as it mattered, I wanted badly for her to know that I was thinking of her. But I also wanted to respect the time we had to spend with her, so we chatted, we laughed, and it was great in that moment to have one more opportunity to spend that time with her. .
At a very young age, I would say when I was 7 or 8, or maybe a few years older than that, I went through this period where I thought about dying a lot. The fear of knowing that this is something that happens to everyone was overwhelming for me. I would lie in bed at night and just think about it, and keep thinking about it over and over, hoping to somehow think of a way to comfort myself, to rationalize the whole idea of dying. Looking back now, I think the passing of my uncle at around that age is what triggered those thoughts. I eventually just made a mental pact to put aside having those recurring thoughts about reconciling with the fact that we’d all die one day, telling myself that it was so far away that I could come and revisit it later.
And in the years since, I would revisit it. I don’t think this is much different from how other people think. Even now, as I’m approaching my 30th birthday, I constantly look back, sometimes at my early-20s, sometimes at my childhood, sometimes even further back, and get really sad that that is it, that I’ll never have a childhood again. These type of thoughts makes me sad, it makes me fear the end of life.
All these years later, I’m still finding ways to compartmentalize the fears of dying. But it sometimes also works as a way to put everything in perspective, to realize that while we’re here and we’re living, how trivial the things we get worked up over can be, and just how little time we really have to live the way we want.
I would like to think that if she was here and reading this, she would say the same thing. Because I saw the way she lived, how she went out of her way to pursue her goals, to chase her dreams, and how caring and loving she was to her boyfriend and eventual husband. She made the most out of life. I admire her for that, and I hate that she’s no longer here to do those things.
I don’t want her passing to be just another reminder about just how fragile life can be, instead I want to remember her by how she lived, and how she really did take advantage of all the time she had, and how she left such a great mark on all the people that had the pleasure of meeting her. I wish she had more time, more opportunities. I wish she was still here. I’ll still think about her a lot and I will miss her, and I wish all the best to Ben and his and her immediate and extended family going forward.