I met her reputation before I ever met her.

She was a favorite amongst the staff- befriended by many and admired by more. On my first day at the organization I watched people struggle to keep their composure, her name whispered amongst colleagues with sad eyes. This was the day everyone heard the news.

D had cancer.

Her picture hangs above the copier in the communal mail room. I’d look at it amongst the checkerboard of other staff faces- her long blonde hair and big beaming smile- and wonder about her. We were close in age.  It could have been me. Cancer is an unjust lottery that no one wants to win.

When I met her in person her smile was wry and weary, the punchline to her witty sarcasm. Over the last three years I got to know her. She was real and hilarious and had such a good soul. I loved her directness and her snark. She was a realist with a soft spot. She had an awesome sweater collection and we’d often exchange boasts of our bargain finds from Target. Both proud aunties, we’d compare cute nephew and niece tales. She would always say hello and ask how you were doing even when she was limping, or in pain, or puffy from the meds. Even when she’d just come from chemo before work. She was humble and generous and beautiful. She was a fighter and I admire how she never gave up.

A few months ago we talked in my cubicle about how her cancer had come back.  I bought her a copy of my favorite book – Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. He had survived cancer and we were all hoping she would. It was a small gesture that I hope brought her some comfort. I wanted to do more but what can anyone do when someone you care about is sick? But show up. Care. Reach out. Be real. Give love.

I arrived to work yesterday to the news: D had passed away on Sunday.


I’m so sad and angry and at a complete loss. So I sat down and wrote this post about her. Because she mattered to me. Because I’m really going to miss her.

Do me a favor, will you? Go tell someone you love:  You matter to me. And mean it. Say what is in your heart now. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Life is too fucking short to live small.

Live big. Live brave. Live like my friend, D- with guts.

“I’ve learned that grief can be a slow ache that never seems to stop rising, yet as we grieve, those we love mysteriously become more and more a part of who we are. In this way, grief is yet another song the heart must sing to open the gate of all there is.

In truth there is a small one who suffers in each of us, an angel trying to grow wings in the dark, and as this angel learns how to sing, we lose the urge to hide. Indeed, when one heart speaks, all hearts fly. This is what it means to be great- to speak what feels unspeakable and have it release what waits in us all.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

49 thoughts on “Live

  1. I think she probably would have been happy to know that you posted this. That’s good advice that everyone can use, especially this time of year.

    I’m sorry you lost your friend.

  2. I think telling people how much you care is a good thing always. I am so sorry for your loss. I hate cancer with a passion and wish it would just go away and leave people alone! You are right, all you can do for someone is to show up and be there for them. You are a good friend for doing that and letting her know how much you care.

    And for the record, I care about you a whole bunch. Even though I have only met you in person once, I feel like you are a very close friend of mine.

  3. I am in the midst of dealing with a close family member who is very ill. I am not prepared for anything that is happening with this. They’re in ICU, balanced between life and afterlife. No way to know which way they’re going to go. And I’m walking grief at the moment.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. A very good friend, who was only 40, passed away from colon cancer a little over a month ago. She was diagnosed only a little over a year ago. I went to visit her one week before she died and it was the toughest thing I ever had to do. It breaks my heart to see someone suffer through that disease. And the family and friends that have to sit back and watch. It breaks my heart that she had hopes and dreams that were just over so quickly. And you can’t help but wonder where you would find the strength if it happened to you.

    Anyway, my thoughts are with you.

  5. That was a very nice post.
    I know what it is like to suddenly lose someone you care about. Even with an illness like cancer, you hold out hope that they will recover. And those times when they don’t…it still hurts even though you know they will suffer no more.
    I’m very sorry for your loss.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss, and for the loss of such a bright and shining star. People need those beacons of light. Remember her that way, and yes, she will remain a helpful part in you for ALWAYS.

    Mark Nepo is sooo right. When Greif comes, I remember, and somehow, the beloved is now a part of me. When you carry them with you, esp their good impacts? You are made more, somehow. It’s the Tapestry metaphor, I guess, and how their threads and memories join our own. They help tell the story of Us.

  7. Well then: You matter to me, Sizzle. And you should know that.

    I am so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose someone you care about. Be kind to yourself these next few weeks. It’s OK to feel everything you will feel and indulge it, so you can allow yourself a chance to heal.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss, again we parallel. I lost a very close friend yesterday. He didn’t have cancer he had the disease of addiction. He took his own life, but I am grieving too. Stay strong and know that they are in a way better place.

  9. I’m sorry that you have to experience such loss—it’s so terrifyingly sad to lose a friend. This post is lovely, though, and I am sure D would be touched knowing that your words will inspire many today.

  10. So beautifully written Sizz. May your dear friend live on forever in your memory. She certainly sounds like an amazing woman. May we all learn something from her strength.

    Big Hugs!

  11. Beautiful, Sizzle. This gives her soul a place to shine now.

    I lost a good friend to breast cancer three years ago. She was 32 (my age now). When I heard she’d passed away, I completely lost it–had been in complete denial about how sick she was. It still makes me sad to think about. I was certain she would wake up to read my card…

    Loves to you, girlfriend. xo

  12. So very sorry Sizzle. Cancer is nothing short of horrid. It’s always good to remember to tell those who matter to us that we love them. I make sure to do that everyday.
    hugs to you my friend and lots of love

  13. I am so sorry, cancer is a bitch no one really should have to mess with…

    (And I’ll make sure everyone in my life knows they matter.)

  14. this breaks my heart. i am so so sorry for your loss. cancer is everywhere, and it sucks. it just sucks. too many people in my life have been touched by this disease in various forms. 1 is too many.

    i am not one to comment often, but i do read your blog, every single post via rss, and i have come to care about you. you matter to me. even though we are essentially strangers, you and your words matter to me.

    thank you for that book recommendation. i’m going to pick that up asap.


  15. I’m so sorry about your friend, dear. I went through this earlier this year with a coworker who was my friend, and it just sucks. Many, many hugs to you. Losing a wonderful person from our lives feels so awful and senseless.

  16. God, I am so sorry. It’s so completely unfair. I have a friend from my days in the theater community who is my age and is going through a fight with breast cancer. And every time I complain about something stupid in my life I think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
    You matter to me as well, for so many reasons, beautiful lady.

  17. Fuck Cancer.

    I know way too many people, young people!, with cancer by now. My best friend has cancer and she’s only 33. It’s really not fair 😦

  18. 😦 so sorry.
    It’s hard to deal with death and much more when it was someone we cared about. Be strong and always remember her with a smile 🙂

  19. Hey Siz,
    I’m sorry for your loss. A song I like to listen to is “Borrowed Angels” from Kristin Chenoweth. Please know I’m thinking of you & your coworkers. 🙂

  20. Fuck cancer.
    I’m so sorry that you lost your friend. Sounds like she lived a life full of love and friendship, but that’s cold comfort, isn’t it?
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I cried for you and your friend as I read this. I, too, have lost people to cancer (though my dad beat it) and I know how terrifying and awful it is.
    My heart is with you.

  21. Hi Sizzle, I’m so sorry for your loss. Cancer pisses me off. It takes too many lives, it shows no mercy. You would think with all the money spent on research someone would come up with a cure. The fact that we haven’t pisses me off too.

    Too many good people, gone. It’s not fair. All we can do now is treasure the moments we do have in this life and the people in it.

    Your post today was a nice dedication to what seemed to be a wonderful person.

  22. Your words are raw, heartfelt, and so beautiful. It’s a touching tribute to your friend. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Cancer is the Devil.

  23. One of our coworkers passed away unexpectedly a couple weeks ago. The hardest part for me was not having the chance to say “You matter to me,” before he was gone.

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