3 years ago this week, my friend Dianna died. Our group of friends was now missing one & the next time we saw each other, there was a gaping hole at the end of the table where Dianna should have been. Looking back, it was also the beginning of the end of my marriage. Edging into my consciousness was the idea that something might be wrong with a marriage where I had to fight to get my husband to go to the wake or the funeral & I wondered why others were emailing, calling & texting to see how I was when it was barely mentioned in my own home. It was a low point in my life.
Dianna was diagnosed in March of 2007 with pancreatic cancer. She fought hard for more than a year through rounds of chemotherapy & an 8 hour surgery. In the end, things looked good. I remember celebrating at her house in the summer of 2008 when it seemed as though the cancer was gone.
It wasn’t to be, though. In November of that year, the cancer was back – this time near her esophagus.
She was gone 4 months later.
Dianna was a woman of great faith. She relied on that faith for everything, and prayed to know what God’s will was for her. But she was not a woman to follow blindly. She questioned. She wondered. And she trusted her God to provide the answers when He thought she was ready to hear them. There is no doubt in my mind, heart & soul where she is now.
I’ve marked Dianna’s death for the past two years – noting its coming & going & remembering her & her great spirit. Not with sorrow… just remembering.
This year is different. This year hurts. This year there is sorrow.
Maybe it’s the feeling of loss that has pervaded everything this past year between the divorce & the ending of other significant relationships that have rattled my foundation. Maybe she’s trying to make me aware of her presence, knowing I need the extra help right now & reaching down from heaven to comfort me. Whatever the reason, as we approach the third anniversary of her death, she has been on my mind an immense amount these past few weeks. And her absence stings.
I came across the image below while looking for something to use to show how Dianna has been in my heart. I liked the simple, organic “D” with a heart at its center – very Dianna. But when The Boy saw it, he asked, “Why is your heart broken, mom?” And looking at it through his eyes, it does look that way with the lines running through it. “Not broken, buddy,” I said. “Just cracked a bit.” He saw it on my Facebook page again today and, not really understanding my explanation of why I was using it, he said, “Put something else there, mom. That picture makes me too sad.” Or maybe he understood all too well the grief behind it. It’s a visual reminder of a woman who deserves remembering as well as a reminder that there is no way around that grief. It has to be felt to get past it. And I pray that I would have the kind of faith Dianna had to see me through the tough times.
I also came across the following which I wrote about a week after she died. And I still miss every single one of these things.
What I Miss
I miss big pots of Apple Cinnamon tea that she would make just for me.
I miss how her dogs would escape whenever I opened the door.
I miss her big bear hugs and how she would whisper in my ear that she loved me.
I miss how she always had to be right.
I miss how I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t tell her that she wasn’t.
I miss how she would cry when she worried about her kids… or was happy for her kids… or was excited for her kids.
I miss how she thought my sense of humor was irreverent… but would laugh anyway.
I miss how much she loved The Wizard of Oz.
I miss how she would display such great faith that I would think, “Why can’t I be like that?”
I miss how she cheered me through 2 pregnancies and grieved the one I lost.
I miss her broccoli salad.
I miss her bean salad.
I miss how annoyed she could get with her parents and how overjoyed she could get with her parents.
I miss her New York accent.
I miss my kids rolling down the giant hill in her backyard.
I miss the Goshen Ocean where we took the kids swimming.
I miss her gentle spirit.
I miss her stubbornness.
I miss the dignity and trust she showed during her entire illness, right up to the very end.
I miss how she would give me things just because – and every day I look at them all around my house.
I miss her crinkly blue eyes.
I miss my friend.
God speed, Dianna. I love you.