Yesterday I learned that a friend had died, not a few days or even weeks ago, but back in August. How could I have not known for so long? Yes, I had known she was sick and had surgery, but my old friend denial was working his magic and it never even occurred to me that she might not be with us any longer, though I hadn't heard from her in a couple months. We'd email, chat online or speak by phone and it wasn't unheard of for us to not speak for a month or so at a time. She was incredibly busy with 2 young children, a husband and having moved a couple years ago. That was why I hadn't talked to her, right?
But still, how could I have not known? Maybe, deep down inside, I did, but didn't want to acknowledge it. Maybe on some level I felt the small ripple wash over me, but it was too much to face. Better to keep busy and ignore the growing sense of unease.
After not seeing a new blog post from her in 3 months, I finally became concerned enough to check her facebook page and there I learned the dreaded news. Ellie had died back in August. She had emergency abdominal surgery in July and was quite ill afterwards, developing a serious pneumonia that never went away. She didn't leave the hospital.
We connected because we both have CF, and are mothers, though she had 2 adopted children who are quite a bit younger than my one. There are unique concerns when you are a CF mom and it is somewhat comforting to be able to voice them to another person who feels exactly the same way. It was Ellie who, as a former college admissions office employee, read over Wilson's first draft of his college essay and gave the feedback that it was one that most incoming freshman write: "an event that changed my life". When he heard that he changed his topic and was quickly accepted early admission to the college of his choice. Her feedback was invalauble.
Ellie was also the one who encouraged me to start a blog. She had one for a few years, and gave me the link to it one time. I'd shyly read it, feeling a bit voyeuristic, but intrigued. It's amazing to read someone's thoughts and daily struggles, things they might not necessarily talk about openly. When she asked me one time if I was reading it I sheepishly admitted I was. She laughed and said, "I gave you the link, its OK for you to read it- I want you to!" She was a wonderful writer, open honest and she had amazing insights into situations. She was brave beyond words and so loved being a mommy. Her family was her life.
Ellie was very supportive as W went off to college, and when I was in the hospital for 2 weeks during his freshman year she sent me a helpful book - Letting Go. Her concern and caring for other people was extraordinary, she always wanted to hear about the other person and what was going on in their life, despite some serious challenges in her own. Clearly, she was in the right field as a social worker!
I'm going to miss her laugh, her stories of how Michael and little Gabe are doing. I'm sad they didn't have longer to know this special person who was their mom, though I know Charlie is going to keep her memory and spirit alive for them. Rest easy, my friend, and know that I miss you and always will.