I'm not even sure how to start this post...
My sweet friend Deena passed away from complications of her treatment of breast cancer. She fought long and hard. She had an extremely aggressive form, and if it wasn't for her tireless advocacy, wouldn't have made it this far. She not only became a strong advocate for herself, but for others as well. She did everything she could to survive as long as she did - mainly for her children. The thought of leaving them was pure torture to her. As if going through the fear of cancer and the treatments wasn't agonizing enough. I can't even imagine the hell.
Her son is 8 and her daughter is 5. Same ages as Jacob and Sydney... I wrote about our visit with Deena and her beautiful family in this post when we were living in California. During those four days, we talked about life and death. It made me feel good that our talks about death brought her comfort. She said everyone was afraid to mention the word or the idea to her, and it was a relief for her to be able to talk about it with me. I think that after being touched so intimately by it and it being a part of me, I'm more comfortable discussing it.
We always seemed to have a connection - from the time Matt was trying to encourage me to move to AZ when Deena and Rob lived there, to having our kids at the same time (she was due with Ryan about the time I was due with Jacob, and I ended up going before her because Jacob was a month early). She had such a beautiful light about her. I am so incredibly grateful for that time in California with Deena, and to have been her friend for so many years.
I've said this already to some of our mutual friends, but I have a very strong feeling she wouldn't want people to say that she "lost her battle" with cancer, because she didn't lose. She fought valiantly. Her body gave out, but she didn't lose. I, personally, hate that expression - which could explain why I feel like she might not like it, either.
Our incredible group of friends wrote letters to her while she was still alive so she could read them and know how much we love and admire her. Another one of our friends organized a greeting card drive for her. We each got her cards for specific occasions so Deena could fill them out ahead of time. It ensured that through the years as her children grow, their dad could give them a card from their mom.
Another mutual friend of ours wrote a beautiful article about her here.
Although we knew it was inevitable, nothing in the world can quite prepare you for the end. I just can't believe Deena isn't on this earth anymore. I can't talk to her on the phone or text with her anymore. My heart aches for her husband and children, and for everyone else she leaves behind.
Here's one of the photos of our kids together - they were like two sets of twins and got along great!