Friday, November 9, 2012

It's Okay, Kay

Today, I lost a dear friend of mine to cancer. Her name was Kay, and she was vibrant and young and beautiful and funny. She had a great laugh and a wicked sense of humor.  She loved her family fiercely and with great joy, had an enviable marriage, and children any parent would be proud to call their own.  She adored her friends, loved nothing better than a girl’s day at the spa, and was a great admirer of the mani-pedi combo. She loved to laugh, laughed heartily, and with a contagion that spread throughout the room,  throwing her feet up and her head back as she giggled about the silliest of things; but what I loved most about Kay was not her ability to laugh, but her ability to love. She loved simply, purely, honestly and without hesitation. She loved unconditionally and with an energy that was infectious.

The cancer came quickly, and was mean and aggressive and ruthless and ugly. It snuck in; hiding like a coward deep in the darkest recesses of her body, undetected by a routine colonoscopy Kay elected to have in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. Then suddenly, and viciously, it roared to life and unleashed havoc on an innocent victim.  It took her energy, her health, her vigor. It took her beautifully highlighted, caramel and honey hair, first in single strands, then in great clumps. It took her appetite, reducing her already petite frame to a gaunt and fragile eighty pounds, and today, it took her life.   But cancer never, and I repeat, NEVER, took Kay’s heart or soul, her smile or laughter,  her love or joy.

She fought aggressively, and she fought hard, but for Kay, cancer was never the problem.  The problem, as she saw it, was protecting her family and her friends from the sorrow and pain caused by her disease. She spent her last few months taking care of us.  She prepared us for the ultimate release from her disease by taking on the onerous task of making all her final arrangements.  She completed her bucket list, comforted her friends and family as they grieved over her disease, and said her goodbyes with compassion and love. She looked cancer straight in the eye and said, “You may take my life here, but you will never, ever, take my soul or my joy.” And by God, it didn’t.

She left us today in body, but she will never leave us in spirit.  I hope that when my time comes to depart this earthly planet, I will do so with the dignity and the love and the compassion that my friend, Kay, exhibited.  She is gone from us at this moment, but it is with great joy that I anticipate meeting up with her in heaven, swinging on a cloud as we ponder which color to paint our toenails and what to have for lunch, laughing by a crystal stream and singing “Hallelujah” as we march into glory. So it's Okay, Kay, to go on home.  Sign me up for a mani-pedi,  I’ll see you again on the other side.

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