One year ago today, breast cancer took my best friend. Judy hadn't been getting her mammograms because she was one of those women who always took care of every one else instead of herself. And in less than two weeks from diagnosis, she was gone.
Judy was the very definition of a friend. Always there, no matter what. She lived quite a ways from our office, and when the weather was bad she would spend the night at my house. After the last night she spent, she gave me a pair of earrings and wrote a note on the card holding the earrings thanking me for the girl time. To this day, I have not removed those earrings from the card.
I have a hard time keeping weight on and every day when we ate lunch together, Judy watched to make sure I ate everything. One year when our office was closed for three days due to ice, Judy had spent the time off crocheting hats for every single girl in the office. She did all the alterations anyone needed and the only way to pay her was to sneak the money on to her desk...or she'd refuse payment no matter how much work she had done. I finally learned to make her promise to accept whatever payment I decided beforehand just to get her to accept the money. Judy didn't have a lot of money, but if she ever heard you say you needed something...within a couple of days...it would appear on your desk. As I sit here at my desk, I look around the room at the things she had given me over the years. It soothes me to see them every day.
Judy suffered terribly from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). A couple of months ago, I was in a local store and found one of those sun lamps SAD sufferers are supposed to sit under to get more sunlight. I was thrilled it was on sale (they're quite expensive) and immediately grabbed it off the shelf. About an aisle or so later, I realized I didn't have her to buy it for and my husband found me there in the aisle holding the box and crying.
This past Sunday, a friend had gotten a new cell phone and needed help re-entering her phone list. As I scrolled through my contacts, Judy's name appeared. I could feel my heart breaking all over again almost a year later.
Breast cancer is a killer. If there is any woman in your life you love, encourage them to get their mammograms. Hell, I don't even care if you despise them...I don't want anyone else lost to this disease. Women, remember that you can't take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself first.
And that listing in my contacts? It's still there. I don't know if I'll remove it. Maybe next year. Maybe...never.