Memorium to a Friend

Hemerocallis 'Red Volunteer'
Hemerocallis 'Red Volunteer'

My friend, Staci, died on Sunday at approximately 1:00 p.m.  At forty, she was beautiful and died too young.  She was married to Rob and had two daughters.  Two of my children, ASW and Bear, were their classmates.

She died of breast cancer, and although I know pink is traditional, Staci was definitely not a pink kind of girl.  She was fiery and feisty, and she deserves every bright and shining color in the crayon box.

When people die of cancer or some other debilitating disease, we read in their obituaries that they fought the good fight, were brave, but that they were eventually defeated.  We also read about their families left behind.

My friend was so much more than her disease, and I don’t want her defined by it.   She was a wonderful mother, who loved her children as fiercely as a mother bear.  Even when she was confined to a wheelchair, she managed to attend most of their school activities, and she worried about how they would grow up without her.

Staci was a musician.  For several years, I was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader.   I was grateful when Staci joined her pure, clear voice to ours as we sang Christmas carols in the nursing homes.  She taught piano and voice, and she was a substitute music teacher at our school.  She sang until her lungs could no longer push out the notes.   Even then, she sang in the depths of her soul.  Last Christmas, I watched her mouth the words to the school program as our children performed.

When diagnosed with her latest recurrence, she quit teaching altogether.  She wanted to spend as much time as she could with her family and just do regular things like cook dinner.

Toward the end, her husband protected her with a fierce dedication and love which told me she was a good wife and partner to him.

H. 'Red ' with H. 'Killer' behind and Rosa 'Cliffs of Dover' on the right
H. 'Ruby Spider ' with H. 'Killer' behind and Rosa 'Cliffs of Dover' on the right

Most importantly, she was an earnest and truthful follower of the Christ.  Like St. Francis advised, she evangelized everyone she touched, and if necessary, used words.  In her every action, she lived as though Jesus were standing beside her.

Ironically, without her disease, we would probably have been only acquaintances; two of my children went to class with hers, but she was quite a bit younger than me, and we didn’t travel in the same circles.  That all changed when our youngest children were in kindergarten, and I was one of the homeroom mothers.  Our school is small and very supportive.  We reach out to new mothers and to the sick.  I was told one of the moms was ill with breast cancer.  I helped coordinate her meals for my class, and I got to know her well through our long phone conversations.  Staci was very private, but soon we both opened up about our challenges.  My mother was ill.  Her mother was ill (with ovarian cancer), and that gave us a launching pad from which to form our friendship.  When I called to check on her, no matter how bad she was feeling, she always asked about my mother.

I rejoiced when her cancer was again in remission.

A few years later, the cancer returned with a vengeance.  It was now in her bones, but she was philosophical about it.  In fact, she spoke about her experience in a video for her church.

Two years ago, she still felt well, yet she lived every day as if it were her last.  On one snowy day (an unusual occurrence in Oklahoma), she showed up at the school office and told them she was checking her girls out for the day.  She wanted to play with them in the snow.

Asclepias curassavica, Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica, Tropical Milkweed

I’ve tried to learn from her example.

When two of her friends, Leslie and Pam, who served in the trenches with her, told me they were taking her out to lunch, I asked if I could go too.  Lunch was no easy task.  Confined to a wheelchair, Staci had to be partially lifted in and out of the car, and two of my tiniest friends did the heavy lifting.  Those lunches taught me a lot about love.  We didn’t discuss the disease, but instead talked for hours about our children, husbands friends, sex, and other beautiful things.  I will cherish those lunches for the rest of my life.

Staci was witty and always truthful.  She didn’t have time to beat about the bush.  If you asked her opinion, you got it with no sugar coating.

I miss her already.

This morning, I told my fourteen-year-old son that the funeral is on Saturday.  He’s having a minor foot surgery on Friday.  Being a self-conscious teen, the first thing he said, was “Oh, boy, Saturday, my foot will look dorky.”

I told him he didn’t have to go.

He looked me straight in the eye and said “Oh, yes, I do.  B.  (her daughter) is my friend.”

So, on Saturday, we’ll all make our final goodbyes to our friend, and we will soldier on.

I know what Staci would say–

“Don’t weep for me.  I am resting in my Savior’s arms.  I am home.”

49 Comments

  1. kerri says:

    Dee, this is such a beautiful memorium to your dear friend. How very sad for her family and friends to have her leave them at such a young age, but yes, she’s pain free and safe in the arms of her Savior, and that’s a comfort, I’m sure.

    kerri´s last blog post..Our Feathered Friends

  2. Nola says:

    Dee, Your post was beautiful, a fitting tribute to your friend. Knowing that she is safe and healed in the Lord’s care now should be a comfort. I will keep her family and friends in my prayers…

    Nola´s last blog post..Getting Back To Normal

  3. Kathleen says:

    Hi Dee. I haven’t visited your blog for a while so I was enjoying catching up. Even getting ready to write about your embroidered pillow cases. They remind me of some my grandmother made for me. Then I saw this post and it stopped me in my tracks. I lost a very good friend in Sept to breast cancer and even tho I know she is in a better place and free from the chemo, the pain, etc., etc. I miss her SO terribly. I can only imagine how your friends children will feel without their mother. So sad they have to experience that loss. My prayers go out to them and to you. It’s a wonderful tribute to her life that you wrote such a beautiful post.

    Kathleen´s last blog post..ice crystals

  4. CurtissAnn says:

    Oh, honey-bunny, what a gift you give Staci, and all of us. I thank God for you.
    Your sister in Christ and love,

    CurtissAnn´s last blog post..Monday’s Fair Light~ Perfect Writing Weather

  5. Dee says:

    Dear Friends,

    Thank you for all of your kind comments and condolences. I will forward them to Staci’s family when I see them at the funeral tomorrow.

    I’m grateful that I got to know her, and I’m also grateful to know all of you.

    God Bless You,

    Dee

  6. Doris Bodden says:

    Dee, I had been keeping up with
    Stacie health for a long time
    thru my daughter, Leslie Blanchard, and was so sad to hear she had passed. I will
    keep you and friends, and
    especially Staci’s family in my
    prayers.

  7. You write so lovingly and beautifully of your friend, Dee. All my sympathy.

    Annie

  8. Jeanne says:

    Dee, I’m so sorry.

  9. paula says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing this. It is a lovely tribute to Staci. My friend since 7th grade died of breast cancer a couple of years ago. Both my sisters have survived it.

  10. Sherri says:

    Dee, what a lovely, touching tribute to your friend, Staci. I am so sorry for your loss.

  11. Oh Dee, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    You’ve written such a wonderful tribute to Staci and as such have done what is so very important at times like this; celebrate her life. You are so very right that an ilness doesn’t define a person as they are so much more than that.

    Staci’s disease was a heavy cross to bear but also a blessing as it gave her the chance to live life to the fullest and it also forged a deep friendship between the two of you.

    ((HUGS))

    Yolanda

    Yolanda Elizabet´s last blog post..Decisions, Decisions!

  12. debra says:

    dearest friend, my condolances and love to you, and to Staci and her family. This cancer claims the lives of too many beautiful, vibrant, powerful women – a constant threat to all of us. The lessons Staci taught you – by being, playing, speaking, loving – are all the more important to read about, for your friendship was a model of sisterly love.
    You are in my prayers. I’ve lost two wonderful garden writer friends to breast cancer – Stephanie and Linda – and they will never be forgotten. I’m sure Staci’s spirit will be with you forever, love and God Bless, Debra

    debra´s last blog post..Eco-friendly lawn and garden equipment – and more

  13. Dollybelle says:

    I’m so so sorry for the loss of your dear friend Dee. My heart and all my love goes out to you and your family as well as Staci’s family. I feel like I knew her too from reading your words of tribute to her.

  14. My love and prayers to you and Staci’s family.

    Linda at Meadowview Thymes´s last blog post..January Joy

  15. Shannon says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss–this was a beautiful tribute to your friend.

    Shannon´s last blog post..There’s Only So Much Good TV a Girl Can Stand

  16. Okie Sister says:

    So sorry for your loss.

  17. mary says:

    What a wonderful tribute! You were truly blessed to have such a friend and I know the memories will help you for the rest of your life.

  18. Julie Percival says:

    Dee, my boys took voice from Staci. They absolutely loved her and were crushed when I told them she died. She was such an inspiration to all of her students and I’m so glad we had the honor of knowing her. Thank you for your wonderful words.

    With love, Julie

  19. Jean says:

    What a beautiful remembrance. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

    Jean´s last blog post..The Power of People

  20. Dear Dee

    This is a lovely obituary.

    I wish you and your family well in your grieving.

    Esther

    Esther Montgomery´s last blog post..NOVEL : LIST : HANDBOOK

  21. georgie says:

    i am so sorry for your loss-your post was a beautiful tribute…to your dear friend…brought tears to my eyes…

    I just wanted to say Congrats on your 2008 Okie Blog award Nom-but now that seems so trivial after reading your post

    georgie´s last blog post..Digi Fun contest

  22. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and to all Staci’s family and friends. This is a wonderful way to honor her, by sharing her story with others.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog post..Letter of Application

  23. Leslie says:

    What a wonderful way to honor the memory of your friend. I’m glad she had her faith to comfort her and hope you find that same comfort in yours. I’ll keep you in my thoughts Saturday…take care.

    Leslie´s last blog post..GBBD January 2009

  24. deb says:

    Dee, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I have to comment on the character of your son, YOU have done an excellent job as a parent. What a great boy.

  25. jodi says:

    Dee, as everyone else has written, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful, heartfelt tribute you have written in her memory.

    jodi´s last blog post..Joy Across the World

  26. Pam/Digging says:

    Thank you for telling me about Staci. This is a very moving tribute to her life, and it reminds me to be grateful for every little minute with my family.

    Pam/Digging´s last blog post..Birds of a feather

  27. Cherry says:

    Girlfriends are the best!
    Enjoy each and every wonderful memory, for they are yours to keep forever.

    Sending prayers & hugs your way.
    Cherry

    Cherry´s last blog post..back porch update

  28. Diana says:

    Dee, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your memorial post is a loving tribute. You’ve honored her with your memory.

    Diana´s last blog post..January organizing and planning…

  29. Brenda Kula says:

    Your teenage son sounds like he has a good mother. Wonderful, heartfelt post. I am so sorry for your loss. Plant something in her memory and visit it with the love you showed to us here. Something bright and cheerful and “her.”
    Brenda

    Brenda Kula´s last blog post..Critter Guests

  30. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh Dee. I am so sorry to hear that you lost such a good friend. Not only were you blessed with this lovely lady as a friend but she was mightly blessed to have you.

  31. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    We live on only in the memories of those who loved us. Staci’s light shines bright and vibrant in this post.

    mss @ Zanthan Gardens´s last blog post..Organic Compost Tumbler

  32. eliz says:

    This is truly a fitting and honest tribute to your friend.

  33. What a beautiful memorial to a dear friend. Bless you all, take beautiful care and thank you for sharing and reminding us all to be thankful.

    Cheryl in Austin´s last blog post..GBBD New Bloomin’ Year

  34. Oh I am so very sorry, Dee. It is hard to lose a friend, no matter how gracious they were in their fight. Peace to you and to Staci’s family.

    Susan Tomlinson´s last blog post..From the old, new is made again

  35. Katie says:

    Dee, thank you for sharing a moving tribute to Staci. She seemed like a great person, and a wonderful mom. My thoughts are with you and will be with you on Saturday.

    Katie´s last blog post..Salad Greens

  36. I’m very sorry for the loss of your friend, Dee. I always think the hardest hit are the children, for losing their mom; and the mom, for being forced to leave her children. It’s a two-edged sword. Very painful. Hard to make sense of. But it happens every day and you are right, we should try to give thanks for each day we are given. Thoughts and wishes for peace are being sent your way (from me)

  37. Robin says:

    Dee, this is such a beautiful tribute to your friend. May we all live as if today is our last, and even more important may we be ready to meet our Maker when that time comes.

    Robin´s last blog post..No Winter Lasts Forever

  38. tina says:

    Such a terrible disease and I am SO sorry for the loss of your friend, and for her family’s loss.

  39. carolyngail says:

    It broke my heart to read that your friend Staci died at such a young age. I am so sorry for your loss and for her family.

    What a beautiful tribute you’ve done in your memorium to her. Her spirit will live on in you and others she has deeply touched with her brief but meaningful life.

    carolyngail´s last blog post..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day -January 15, 09

  40. Hi Dee
    I hope writing this post as helped you a little bit. Thank you for sharing I think it helps us all remember how precious life is. I have two work colleagues fighting breast cancer at the moment and I know neither of them want to be defined by the disease
    Big hug to you
    Helen

  41. Marnie says:

    This post made me cry. I’m so sorry she had to leave her children and husband at such a young age. I’m sorry for them and for her friends. I wish it could have been different.
    Marnie

  42. None of us knows when death will come for us. The healthiest among us may die tomorrow in an accident. Living each day as if it were your last is the best way to live, because you never know, it might be. Even if it isn’t, it’s a better way to live, more engaged with life. It sounds like your friend made the most out of the time given her and didn’t squander it, the way most of us do. My thoughts & prayers are with you, your family and Staci’s family & friends.

    Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog post..January Bloom Day – Stir Crazy Edition

  43. Gail says:

    Dee, I am so very sorry you lost your friend…it is good to know that she was at peace at the end and that she would want all of her dear ones to know that peace, too. We never forget them and they continue to touch our lives forever. Gail

    Gail´s last blog post..Good morning, Garden Blogger. Your Mission, Should You Decide To Accept It…

  44. Dee, a heartfelt post honoring your friends life. How I admire the fact that she took her kids out of school to play in the snow.
    I am sending you a virtual hug –
    K

    Karen – An Artists Garden´s last blog post..Blog Housekeeping

  45. Cindy, MCOK says:

    When my friend Leslie died from breast cancer just over 2 years ago, I stood in tears, hugging her husband. His words to me are what I give you today: “It’s okay. Be glad for her … she’s free … no more cancer.” I am glad that Staci has been released and is healthy and free again, but I am sad for your loss and I feel your heartache. I hope coming together to celebrate Staci’s life will bring you and all who loved her comfort and peace.

    Cindy, MCOK´s last blog post..A Tale of Two Gardens (GBBD, Part Two)

  46. Amanda says:

    How very sad. Sounds like she’ll live on in many people’s memories, though.

    Amanda´s last blog post..Raised beds (be VERY careful!)

  47. MNGarden says:

    With sympathy for the loss of your friend,
    Donna

    MNGarden´s last blog post..Something Beautiful

  48. I’m sure this was a difficult post to write. Thank you for sharing your memories of Staci. I’m sorry you lost her.

    Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening´s last blog post..Designing with Native Plants: Creating Sustainable Landscapes for the Finger Lakes & Upstate New York

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