Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sweetness

In April, when my bestie 
and I celebrated our birthdays
together, we shared a hotel
room in downtown Chicago
with our other best friend Fiona,
just off the hustle and bustle
of State Street.

Spending two nights in this kind 
of proximity was a luxury for us, 
since my home is in a different state.  

And, besides laughter, it also 
encouraged all kinds of other 
sharing, like magazines, beauty
products, candy and stories.

Good stuff.

One of the things that Kathleen
introduced me to was an aluminum-
free deodorant with a funny name.
(Her oncologist advised steering
away from aluminum as there have
been possible links between it and
breast cancer.)

The name of the deodorant
Life Stinks.

At the time, we chuckled at that.
Because life is smelly and messy
and wonderful and 

But here's the thing.

It doesn't stink.

Kathleen would be the first
to tell you that.

Life is beautiful.

We see animals, every day,
scurrying from perceived danger
to protect their most precious
 possession ~ life.  

It's a powerful instinct.  Even the
most basic creature will do what
it can to guard itself from harm
in order to continue living.

Humans, too, will endure pain, 
suffering and whatever treatments
are necessary, seeking to cure
disease and stay alive.

As I grieve the death of my 
lovely friend, who lost her battle 
with cancer last week, I remind myself 
of her strong will to keep living.

She fought to the end.

Kathleen was one of those people
who savored the little things in
life as much as the big moments.  

{Celebrating life:  Fiona, Kathleen, Suzanne}

Today as I walked with the warm 
autumn sunshine on my face,
I thought of her and how she 
particularly relished this season.

When I hugged my son before school, 
I remembered how Kath delighted in
hugging her own affectionate boy.

As I sniffed my little bag of lavender
before bed last night, I smiled as I
recalled her love for anything with
this distinct scent.

Life is sweet as well as stinky.

But it is the sweetness
that prevails.

And comforts.


Thank you all for the
oh-so-kind comments,
emails and Instagram
notes over the last few
weeks as I walked the
last miles of my dear
friend's life with her.

Every one of you
adds to the sweetness,
and I am forever

all photos my own

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Because the ocean soothes
her soul, we'd planned
a trip to the sea.

But cancer had other plans.

And so, last weekend, 
instead of boarding an airplane, 
anticipating sunshine and
surf, I drove 400 miles to
visit my best friend,
preparing my heart for
a time that has come
much too soon.

of sitting on the beach,
I sat by Kathleen's hospital
bed, tucked neatly next
to the king-sized one she's
shared with her husband for
19 years.  The bed where she
nursed her babies, calmed
their bad dreams and cuddled 
with them during movies.

of sipping margaritas
while the sun dipped below
the horizon, I held a glass of
water with a straw to my
dear friend's lips.

of strolling the water's
edge, I was part of a caring
team of family and friends
that helped our sweet girl
take slow and deliberate steps
from bed to chair.

of laughing 'til we cried
over a silly story from the
past, I dabbed Kathleen's
tears as they slipped from her
beautiful eyes, and witnessed
how she positively glowed
when her children entered
the room.

But despite the sad moments,
we did, indeed, laugh, and
her indomitable spirit ~

her Kathleen-ness ~

still shone brilliantly.

It was a sacred time.

Our other bestie, Fiona, the
third musketeer, was by
her side as well, helping to
support our precious friend.

We held each other up, too.

Kathleen was sleeping as 
peacefully as a child
when it was time for me to
make my way home on
Sunday afternoon.

As Fiona and I each laid a
hand on the resting form of
our beloved pal, our eyes
locked in gratitude for the
blessing she has been to us.

Rather than the shuttered room
where she was sleeping, I imagined
Kathleen was dreaming of sunlight
on water, of gulls reeling and cawing 
overhead, of the pounding of surf 
and the gentle lapping of waves,



If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.

~Psalm 139:9-10

All images, my own.