when i came back from her funeral, my lilies had just started to bloom. they were extremely late bloomers this year. i like to think it was on purpose.
we have been blogging for a little over two years now. in that time, we have shared our experiences as we have lost friends to cancer. each friend taught us something and left a permanent imprint on our lives. my first sweet friend was lost in august of 2011. if you haven't read about leslie, she was honored in "the dreaded phone call." she left behind her amazing husband and two grown kids and managed to live to see her first grand baby. our second friend was lost in january of 2012. her story inspired "the art of being remembered." megan left behind her husband and two small children. this month, we lost our third beautiful friend to cancer. words cannot express the sadness that has come with the loss of each person but we have gained so much from each of their lives. each one of them has left an impression on us that will never be forgotten and a legacy that they are passing on to those left behind.
when i think of my friend, lara, i cannot help but be grateful for the time i knew her. we moved into our neighborhood very near to the time when her cancer was diagnosed. our now rising 1st graders grew up together. i have watched her fight through her disease. through it all, she left a beautiful legacy, a heritage for those who knew her and for her sweet daughter. when i think of lara, these are the lovely things i will remember.
she left a legacy of family. she loved her family. in a society where spouses are quick to diminish one another in the company of others, she stood out. she publicly praised and honored her husband. she was so thankful for him, for his love, for his care, for his friendship. she built up her husband and he adored her. she modeled a loving marriage for her daughter. that is a gift her sweet girl will carry with her forever. lara took time to invest in and bond with her sister, her best friend. she took time to relish in the relationships with her parents. most of all, she loved her little girl. even on days when she was not feeling well, she invested in the life of her daughter. she was there, smiling as her girl stepped off the school bus. she loved on her, created memories with her, and exemplified what a mother can be. lara recognized that her time was limited but i don't believe that is why she cherished her daughter, her husband, her sister, and her parents. that's just who she was.
she left a legacy of friendship. lara was a true friend and she inspired others around her to become better friends to others. she could make you laugh even in the midst of a horrible day. when i stepped on a school bus to yell at some screaming children (yep, i'm *that* mom), she publicly had my back and cheered me on. when our kids were in preschool and my son insisted on staying behind to clean the sinks in the bathroom because that's what's expected at home (once again...i'm *that* mom too), she praised me to others. she had just enough snark to make things interesting and to keep people laughing. she inspired a neighborhood full of women to become "supporting sisters" and secretly leave her gifts once a week. over the course of two years, there were 35 neighbors and close to 10 women from the preschool who brought her gifts. it takes an amazing friend to inspire that kind of love from others.
she left a legacy of fortitude. i think this is true of almost anyone fighting cancer. they are the bravest, strongest, most resilient people i have ever known. she outlived and outfought the doctor's time frames. she went through countless medications and countless treatments with such grace and such courage. she fought for time, time with her husband, time with her daughter, time with her family and friends. i am so thankful for her strength. because she fought, we were all given more time with her, more memories. because of her strength and many answered prayers, her daughter has years of memories to take with her.
she left a legacy of faith. even when things were hard, lara went to church and she brought her daughter. her little girl knew about heaven and when her mommy went there, she understood some about that amazing place. lara knew how important faith would be in her little girl's life and she planted those seeds in her daughter that will grow as years go by. what a gift that is.
when all the dust settles and all the emotions align themselves in my mind, one thing keeps resurfacing...gratitude. i am so grateful. i am grateful to have known lara and leslie. heather is grateful to have known megan. we are grateful for the time we had with each of them. we are grateful that they each left such amazing legacies for their children. their kids have a heritage of faith, of love, of strength and of laughter. we are grateful for what their lives and their deaths have taught us. we are grateful that all of their pain is over. we are inspired to leave a lasting legacy of our own. we are grateful.