I drive by her house at least once every day.
I never fail to turn my head while passing her driveway on the busy road. I glance at her front door and porch.
I say her name under my breath.
She died four years ago, on my youngest daughter’s birthday.
She was my age. She had two children the same ages as my own, and we met at our kids’ preschool.
Her husband loved her…his love for her was beautiful, loyal and strong. He didn’t leave when she started her decline. When traditional methods failed, he took her to an alternative clinic. They couldn’t afford that, but he asked others for financial help. He wanted her to live so badly; she was his life.
She was beautiful, even when she shaved her head during chemotherapy. After the breast cancer had ravaged her body, she kept volunteering at the preschool despite growing weaker from the disease and the treatment.
She fought cancer tooth and nail – she really did. If anyone could have “beat it”, it would have been her.
When I had a scare with breast cancer, I had biopsy surgery. Then I waited for the results. I felt so terrified. Anna invited me over to her house to hang out. I wasn’t good company; my bipolar depression was in full force, but she didn’t care about that.
I didn’t want to complain to her; she needed my complaints like she needed a hole in her head! Nevertheless, she knew what I was worried about, and she gave me support in the midst of her own fight. Not many people could do that. She was extraordinary.
These days, I see her lovely little girl each week at my daughter’s dance class. While I know appearances can be deceiving, her child smiles, dances joyfully and she looks happy. She has a devoted father, and she has a circle of friends around her.
Still, the loss of a mother is an incalculable loss. No child should lose her mom. Our girls repeatedly ask us if we’ll die – it’s one of their greatest fears. Now that I’m a mother, I view the death of a parent so differently than I did before I had children.
As long as I live I’ll never forget Anna. If you met her you’d never forget her resilience, her fighting spirit, or her compassion. There’s the trite phrase “only the good die young”, but it really is true in Anna’s case. She affected a lot of people in positive ways, not just me. Our world lost someone special when she left it
I’ll be passing by her house this afternoon around 4:15 p.m. At that time, I’ll be thinking of Anna and wishing her well, wherever her spirit has soared to, and I’ll be thinking of her family too. I know they can’t ever get over her death, but I hope they will find as much peace as is possible living without her. I know she would want that for them.