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Friday, June 17, 2011

Saying goodbye to Laura

Our niece is in hospice care.  I guess, by definition, that means she won't be with us long.

Laura's only 30 years old.  She got her college degree, got married, and then a few weeks later, at age 23, she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.  She's only 30 years old.  I write that again because I just can't believe it.  30 years old.  That's just too young to die.

I didn't have too much connection with Laura, to be honest.  I married into the family when Laura was 17--her life was filled with other things (as are all 17 year olds), so we didn't spend time bonding.  Whenever I saw her it was with the large-scale family, allowing for the litany of small-talk questions: How's school? How's work? and the like.

But she was always sweet.  And positive.  And smart.  And witty.  Just a lovely young lady.  She read at our wedding (she's Jodi's goddaughter).  She always included us in family invites later when she married. Did I mention she's just 30 years old?

She has fought this cancer with every treatment in the book (and some that aren't, I am sure).  Her faith has been incredibly strong, her outlook incredibly positive.  Her in-laws began a foundation and an annual walk/run to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and it's been a huge success.  They call it Laura's Smile Mile, well, because she brings smiles to so many people, and she smiles, and laughs, so much herself, even through seven years of fighting this.  Now she's 30.

When Jodi and I stopped in to see Laura at the hospice on Memorial Day, I stayed pretty much in the shadows, as I have always done, peripherally involved in stories told, nodding, sharing a smile.  When it came time to go, I touched Laura's arm--I've never hugged her or anything, except probably at her wedding, and now I couldn't because she looked so frail I feared she might break--and told her I loved her, and that I would always remember her reading at Jodi's and my wedding.

Since then, word's come from Laura's mother that Laura has accepted that her time is coming soon. We stopped in yesterday to say goodbye, I guess.  I sat in the periphery, as usual, but when it was time to go, Laura held out her arms for a hug, our cheeks pressed together, and she said "I love you."

She's only 30 years old.

That's just too young to die.

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