Forgive me if I make no sense, but I've spent the past couple of hours crying for the passing of a woman I never met.
My blogger friend and running inspiration, Amanda, passed away tonight, almost a year after being diagnosed with leukemia. I keep trying to remind myself that she is no longer suffering the indignities of a body that didn't appreciate her spirit, but it isn't stopping my tears. I am thinking of her husband, who humored me and my rambling inquiries; her little boy who brought her so much joy.
Right now, my brain is flooded with our conversations while she was sick; her faith and her laughter despite the pain. I recognized something almost immediately in her that is completely lacking in myself--courage. She always seemed positive and upbeat, no matter how bad things got.
I joined TNT in her honor last May, soon after she was diagnosed and was hoping so much to meet her in San Francisco. She was a runner in training and I wanted to entertain her with stories of doing something she enjoyed. I had heard of the masses of people participating in the Nike Marathon, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and wanted her to see it. I wanted her to watch 20,000 people running to give her hope. She couldn't make it to San Francisco because of her treatments, so I called her the minute I walked into my room. I honestly felt her with me from the time I woke up to go to SF, and wanted to share every moment with her. She answered the phone and told me she was being injected with what looked like toilet bowl cleaner.
And so I described the view, the masses, the excitement and my plans to get her there next year. "I am NOT running next year unless you either run with me or wear an ugly green wig and cheer me on! Lil' A will love this place! He can dance on the streets along the way." She promised to be there and I accepted. During our calls we talked about religion, faith, baking, pets, her adorable son, shooting, my attempts at running and just about anything else I could think of. I left her more voice mail messages than I can remember, because I had a horrible sense of timing and rarely called when she was actually available.
I wanted to see her when I was visiting Washington DC, but didn't want to push in case she wasn't up to it. I never got to see her.
In all this time, I only heard her cry once. This, despite knowing what she did. She had courage.
She had the courage to fight with grace and humor, to dress up for Halloween for her son, to talk to well meaning (but clueless) strangers; to laugh at the absurdities.
So tonight, I mourn the loss of a stranger who inspired me and taught me more than I can ever thank her for. I want to be glad that she didn't suffer in her final moments and will no longer have to deal with the indignities of cancer. But for now, I'll cry for the loss of a friend.