With every friend I love who has been taken
into the brown bosom of the earth,
a part of me has been buried there;
but their contribution to my being of happiness,
strength and understanding remains
to sustain me in an altered world.
As mentioned on the Home Page, this site is dedicated to four of my close friends, only in their fifties, who lost their battles with cancer within a four-month time period last year.
By sharing ideas on this site that bring people together, I hope to carry on their spirit of fun, family and friendship.
The site equally honors my many friends and family members who have survived cancer…..or who are now courageously working toward that goal. Their successes are blessings beyond measure.
Below, please read about my friends, Jean, Ann, Donna and Dave.
Also, a little further down you’ll learn about Deliberate Acts of Friendship — a simple “win-win” that we can all commit:
in gratitude for our many survivors;
in support of those we love who are now courageously fighting;
or in honor of our loved ones lost.
In Light there is Dark, and in Dark there is Light.
–Kami Garcia, Beautiful Darkness
Donna (front row, fourth from left below), a devoted wife, proud mother of three, faithful friend, compassionate nurse who cared for cancer patients, preschool aide, avid volunteer, cancer support advocate (who previously lost her mother, father and a younger brother to cancer) and second mom to many was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2010.
After months of chemo, surgery and radiation, she recovered and lived life to the fullest — always fun, positive and an inspiration to many. While undergoing treatment, she simply put her wig and make-up on and went out with family and friends to have fun. She even vowed to wear eye liner in the operating room.
In this photo, her hair was just growing back in and she looked awesome.
Donna loved music, theater, had a beautiful voice, and, as a fan of Donny Osmond, she was a proud member of O-Positive, the Osmond Family Fan Club.
Three years after her initial diagnosis, a devastating recurrence as a brain tumor claimed her life in June 2013, leaving a huge void in the lives of many, including my own.
A fun-loving and upbeat spirit like Donna, Jean was a pastoral associate at a busy Catholic Church, where she reached out and helped others on a daily basis. She was just one course away from finishing her Masters in Ministry from Boston College, with the intent of helping others deal with grief.
She brought sunshine wherever she went; she was an awesome example of kindness and compassion; and she would have been great at counseling others through difficult times.
She also loved music and insisted that when Davy Jones of the Monkees sang “Daydream Believer” (Cheer Up Sleepy Jean)….he was singing that to her. The day before she passed, she told me she’d send that song to me as a sign that she was okay. The first time I heard it (on the radio in the car), I had to pull over. Now when I hear it, I smile and feel her presence.
Jean and Donna were each like the sisters I didn’t have. I was so blessed to have them as my close friends. Their presence in my life is missed more than words can say.
The four of us (from left, Kathy, me, Ann and Midge) were inseparable in high school and (living in different states) were just starting to reconnect after years of raising our children and careers.
A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, Ann lost her brave battle in April 2013. Her adorable face, smile and great dimples, along with a heart of gold and sense of humor, made everyone love her instantly. I was always so proud to be her friend.
Ann and I always shared a love of music, going back to our high school days. For the above reunion, I burned a CD for each of my friends of the music we listened to constantly in the 70s. She texted me the next day to say she was driving around town, singing along loudly to every song and loving it. It’s an image that makes me smile….and makes me miss her all the more.
Dave, who lost a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer in early July 2013, was my brother’s best friend in high school, hence like another “big brother” to me. Midge, his wife (above), is one of my close friends and hands-down one of the sweetest, kindest people to walk the planet. Midge and Dave met in high school; what they had was truly special.
Through friendship, I try to help her cope with the loss of her soul mate, doting father to their three children, Matt, Kara and Kyle; and devoted grandfather of their two grandchildren.
Dave, an accountant, gave back to his community — especially as a volunteer sports coach for more than 25 years. As the former quarterback and captain of our high school football team, Dave especially looked out for the players who were not the shining stars. He encouraged his children and his players to do the same.
A proud Marine veteran, Dave was referred to at his funeral as “a prince of a man”. It was a perfect way to describe this amazing friend whom I was honored to know and love.
Dave loved music and the group, The Band, so the verse from Neil Diamond and The Band’s “The Last Waltz” on his Memorial Card was fitting.
Pay it Forward
All four of my friends were vibrant, caring people who left behind so many who love them. They represent countless others who have also left loved ones behind much too soon.
If everyone who reads this pays their spirit of fun, family and friendship forward by committing a DELIBERATE ACT OF FRIENDSHIP — setting up time with someone you’ve been meaning to see face-to-face — there’ll be many win-wins out there.
Invite a friend or family member to your home.
Meet him/her at a restaurant for dinner, a cocktail hour or just for coffee.
Forgo two hours of social media in favor of two hours sharing a meal.
Reach out to someone who spends a lot of time alone.
Use one of these party ideas to host a gathering that “really” brings people together.
Invite a friend/family member who is a cancer survivor to your home or out just to say,
“I’m lucky to have you — you are amazing.”
Make someone’s day, just to be with them. You are so blessed to have them.
Deliberate Acts of Friendships happening all over would shine such a bright light in this world — one smile, hug, and face-to-face conversation at a time.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a weary world. –William Shakespeare
Though it’s devastating to have lost my four friends, I’m also grateful that out of the five girlfriends from our Circle of Angels group who were battling cancer around the same time, three are survivors.
Today, they are doing beautifully, making a positive difference to others, and relishing every moment spent with family and friends.
I have faith in my faith, which tells me that Jean, Donna, Ann and Dave are in a better place and that I’ll see them again.
In the meantime, I’ll cherish the privilege of spending time with those family members and friends who are still here with me — for now I know for sure that because of these wonderful people in my life, life can be very sweet….but much too short.