She danced on this earth

January 13, 2012

Last weekend I went for a walk in a beautiful park with a longtime friend who has faced major health challenges in recent years. She told me she’d given some advice to another friend facing a similar challenge: “Make every day count.” As we walked past a small stream, we talked about how important living our best lives was.

That conversation stuck with me for days.

Yesterday I woke to news that a Tampa friend of almost 20 years, a former colleague, a woman my age, had lost her four-year battle with cancer. It was a battle she faced head on and fought with all her considerable might.

While D’s friends and family in Tampa talked and supported each other back east, the same was happening over the 3,000 miles that separates me from my Tampa community. Friends called and emailed to reminisce and be sure I’d heard the news. Tampa’s a small community and D. was well-known and well-loved.

In the four years since her diagnosis and during many grueling rounds of treatment, D. epitomized “make every day count.” She was already a successful entrepreneur, a community leader and a devoted mother. But in these final years, she lived that advice–make every day count–completely and wholly. She faced the end of her life on earth with great courage and grace.

I was amazed at her positive attitude toward her terminal illness and we corresponded a bit about that. “Oh, I have my down days,” she wrote. “But I try to shake them off.”

How a person lives says a lot about who they are. But how they die says just as much.

In a little over a week, I’ll be in Tampa, raising a cup of coffee with mutual friends in honor of D. and reminisicing. I hope D’s loved ones are comforted by the faith that, as Patti Smith so beautifully expresses, paths that cross will cross again.

Speak to me
Speak to me heart
I feel a needing
to bridge the clouds
Softly go
A way I wish to know
A way I wish to know

Oh you’ll ride
Surely dance
In a ring
Backwards and forwards
Those who seek
feel the glow
A glow we will all know
A glow we will all know

On that day
Filled with grace
And the heart’s communion
Steps we take
Steps we trace
Into the light of reunion

Paths that cross
will cross again
Paths that cross
will cross again

Speak to me
Speak to me shadow
I spin from the wheel
nothing at all
Save the need
the need to weave
A silk of souls
that whisper whisper
A silk of souls
that whispers to me

Speak to me heart
all things renew
hearts will mend
round the bend
Paths that cross
cross again
Paths that cross
will cross again

Rise up hold the reins
We’ll meet again I don’t know when
Hold tight bye bye
Paths that cross
will cross again
Paths that cross
Will cross again

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