I am behind in posting. I had several big travel days to get from Florida back to Texas and had to go right to work as soon as I got here. There are at least three posts backburnered right now and they are going to stay that way, at least for now.
Today, a friend of mine lost her life to cancer. I have never in my life seen someone fight so hard, yet with so much grace. She was a little younger than me, in her mid-thirties, and was one of the most genuine people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
There was a point, a few years ago, that she and I identified closely with each other because we both suffered from severe back and neck pain. We were both braiders. We were of similar builds and both carrying a lot of weight in our upper bodies, contributing to the pain. That is where the stories diverge.
You know the path my life took. Her life took a different path. Her pain continued to increase until a scan revealed tumors pressing on and fracturing some of her vertebrae. Those tumors were cancerous and she began a several year battle against cancer. She handled every setback, every roadblock with a level head and a quiet courage that I will spend many years trying to understand. I am in tears writing this, yet I know that this is trivial compared to the pain her loved ones are feeling tonight.
I feel almost guilty for the good fortune I have had in my life. My problems were solvable with proper diet and exercise. It is easy to forget my fortunes and focus on the negatives but in truth, though aspects of my life have been very difficult, in many ways it has been nearly charmed. I have what I need. My problems are first-world triathlete problems. I bitch about work, I can't figure out how to adjust a derailleur without breaking something, I need new flooring in my camper.... BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Right now I am grateful for a life that is kind enough to allow me to believe that things of this nature are actually problems.
I am grateful for my run tonight. I am grateful for a heart that beats, lungs that take in air, eyes that see all the colors of the rainbows, hands that get up every night and create something beautiful no matter how injured, for the roof over my head, the special little dog responsible for the laugh track in my life, for EVERYTHING I HAVE AND MORE. I am alive and that is enough to warrant immense gratitude by itself. I am also grateful to my friend who showed the world by example the meaning of courage, gratitude, and grace.
Andrea, I will miss you. The world is a lesser place without you. I am, and always will be, humbled.