I am a flood of emotions right now, from grief to gratitude. A little more than a week ago a friend of mine died after bravely battling breast cancer for two years. This friend was not only close to me, but also to my entire family.
We met nearly six years ago when our daughters ended up sitting next to each other on the first day of kindergarten. Our daughters became fast friends, and so did we. It didn’t matter that she spoke mostly Spanish and I barely spoke any. You don’t always need to speak the same language to know the quality of a person. I could see that in the way she and her husband raised their two kids. They are two incredibly devoted parents who came to the U.S. for the same reason millions of others did; to give their children a better life.
Their devotion shows. I’m really not exaggerating when I say they’re two of the nicest, most respectful, and smart kids I’ve ever met. Her older son inherited his mom’s infectious smile and her daughter embodies her quiet kindness.
When I first found out about my friend’s cancer diagnosis, it was like a punch in the gut. No. Not her. This can’t happen to her. But it did. And while the cancer may have broken down her health and created a financial hardship on her family, it couldn’t touch her spirit. Whenever I would visit her, either in the hospital or at her home, she would always inspire me.
She continues to inspire me now. When she passed away, I knew her family would need not only emotional, but also financial help. Her husband would never ask for that kind of assistance, but I had no problem asking for him. So I did. I knew a few people would donate, but the response has been nothing short of amazing. Dozens of people opened their wallets, shared her story, prompting other people who didn’t even know her to give. Within five days of starting a memorial fund, the cost of her funeral was covered. And the donations, all of which will go to her kids, continue.
While my heart hurts so very much for the loss of my friend and the loss for her family, I am also so very grateful. Grateful for knowing her, learning from her, and seeing first-hand the power one person can have on so many others.