We were both in our 40's.
She had a boy and a girl.
We both loved to run...the half marathon, in particular.
She was passionate and brimming.
And, God damn it, she was beautiful; far more stunning than me.
While I was on the couch over vacation checking Facebook, I gulped.
Stage 4 Lung cancer and after a brief time in Hospice, was gone.
We met several years ago in a work capacity...colleagues, volunteers, co-creaters.
After she moved away from Omaha, we kept track of each other via social media. I had hoped to travel and run with her; but never quite made it there.
Every time I had a race, she was one of the first to post... "Today is yours," she once wrote. "Remember to breathe and look around. There's a lot to see along the way."
And in her short life, she did a lot...traveled internationally, made it on to a national famous cooking show, started her own business and blog, loved her children ferociously and never let her friends forget how special they were to her. Oh, and she hooked me onto a gorgeous Poppy lip stain of which I am forever in her debt.
So, when I found out she passed, I was furious.
Who would take a mother with children who need her? What world would diagnose a healthy young woman with a terminal illness in the prime of her life? Why is circumstance so cruel?
Not even my faith brought my solace. I was just writhing in anger and fear. If this could happen to her, it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.
And I suppose we know that...that we are all mortal...and that we don't get to control the number of days we have on this earth. That we are fragile. That we are powerless. That we are reliant upon each other...in every way.
My last several fill in the blank (days, weeks, months, years) have been precarious. I keep wondering who I will grow up to be. I keep standing in amazement as my children grow, despite my pining for them to stay young. I wonder in futility what will become of them and if I will have helped or hindered their development. I beg of the universe to keep me healthy and to help me to be brave and not to live in fear.
But this is what middle age is...the immunity of your 20's evaporates, the exhaustion of your career 30's steadies, your friends begin to get diagnoses or divorces, your children grow and you realize that nothing is permanent.
And so, the joy comes in the screaming, the laughing, the crying, the yawning, the school supply buying, the towel folding, the sun screen applying, and the kissing goodbye and hello.
Goodbye for now, my friend. Thank you for inspiring me to live in all of the moments...the good, the bad, the uncertain. I promise to run my next race with you right beside me. We'll take plenty of time to look around and take in the beauty.