by Laurie Fessler
It starts in the evening with the darkening sky. The winds get cold enough to slap your face. You can no longer remember what summer felt like. The seasons change quickly as does life. You see a friend in the distance who looks sallow and frail. You gasp inwardly and feel your stomach plummeting right down to your now-numb toes. You wish on the first star sparkling brightly in the too-black sky.
Not many of us know the details. People, friends, well-wishers talk, not out of gossip, but out of love and concern. There was an entire neighborhood on the watch for her. We followed her slow, measured walk. If I saw her walking alone, I would squish my feet into sneakers and run out the door to join her. She welcomed the company but would never ask for it. Whenever you asked her how she felt, she would flash her brilliant smile and always replied, “Fine.”
She was an extraordinary woman, loyal friend, devoted wife, nurturing and supportive mother. She was kind to everyone she met. To witness her determination and lightning-quick spirit was, to say the least, awe-inspiring. She was the stubborn warrior.
In the middle of the night, when things feel grossly exaggerated and emotions run high, we look for dawn, for the first glimmer of hope. We huddle beneath layered blankets thinking we will never be warm again all the while knowing she is saying in her most determined voice, “I will fight this.” She left an indelible mark on every person she met, and if you asked her if she knew this, she would tilt her head back, laugh heartily and deny it. Yet we know the truth. We all do.
I will never look at the winter light in the same way again. My friend, Dawn, passed away on February 11, 2011, after her long battle with cancer. The sky was blue and the sun shone through the wind-swept trees and beamed on the empty branches like golden necklaces. From my window, it looked way too pretty a day to lose a loved one. Dawn peacefully passed away at home surrounded by her loving family.
We pray, we love, we ask for blessings. Let the dawn come quickly erasing the troubled nights, replacing them with hope and a circle of love from near and far. We pray individually and collectively and in a thousand different ways because we know love has no religion. We pray in hushed whispers for Dawn and ask that her family be blessed with the same strength with which Dawn lived her life.
As time marches on, may we take with us our endearing memories of Dawn Re, everyone’s friend.
By Laurie Fessler, wife, mother & friend of Dawn’s. You can find her blogposts on: Hibernationnow.wordpress.com