The light of friendship is like the light of phosphorus, seen plainest when all around is dark.
I was wracking my brain for something to write about when I read that Elizabeth Edwards had just died. It was only a few days ago that announcements of her “gravely ill” status began circulating in the news. I don’t know Elizabeth and I’m not writing this post to comment on her life, her marriage to John Edwards or anything else about her.
Except that she died from breast cancer. And breast cancer is what my closest friend, Dee, died from two years ago, December 20. Dee is often in my thoughts. There are many days when I ask myself, “What would Dee do?” if I find myself confronted with one of life’s challenging moments.
I’ve been thinking about Dee a lot lately. Not just because this is the month when she died, but because there have been a few dark days when I’ve really longed to talk with her. Her soul-deep knowledge of who I am gleaned from a friendship that spanned 44 years, gave me solace when nothing else could. There were so many parts of my life that I didn’t need to explain, and she had a gift for straight-forward wisdom and words of comfort when they were needed most.
I miss my friend like nobody’s business, so I curse the disease that took her from me and from her wonderful husband and family and her many friends who miss her as deeply as I do. Selfishly, I want her back, even though I know that in her 50 years on this earth, she was a shining star. No, she never made the front page of the New York Times. You won’t find her on a “Who’s who?” list, and she never acquired fame or great fortune, unless you count her friendships. In those she was rich indeed.
Today, a friend of Elizabeth Edwards was quoted as saying, “”Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer. The battle was about living a good life and that she won.”
My friend Dee lived a good life hands down. She was an integral member of a loving family. Her marriage was one of the strongest I know. She wasn’t a saint but she was generous, caring and kind. Those of us who were her in her intimate circle of friends were truly blessed.
Even though I feel a profound sense of loss that she is no longer in the world, I try to do my best to honor her memory by being the best partner I can be to my husband. I truly appreciate sitting down for a delicious meal, wandering through our neighborhood farmer’s market and hunting for a good find at a yard sale. These simple pleasures brought joy and satisfaction to Dee, and to me.
And, I make an effort to keep in touch with my friends and remember the small details and important milestones in their lives. In being a good friend, I keep the essence of Dee – and my memories of our friendship – burning bright.