For Vickie and those who love her…
I wish I could be there with you all today. Unfortunately, my teaching schedule and being across an ocean makes that impossible. Vickie, I know, would understand because she was always making sure her responsibilities were taken care of no matter how she felt.
Those of us who knew her in any context knew this about her: she did absolutely nothing by half-measures. Speaking of which, today is her birthday and I imagine most of you who are gathered today were at her 50th birthday party last year – what a beautiful celebration that was! We were all so happy to see Vickie so radiant and Alive. I thought she had beaten her horrendous illness, and being an American, I’m addicted to happy endings, so that’s the one I wrote for her.
And even though she did die later that same year, the fact is on that day she had beaten her cancer. That day she was radiant and grasping for every moment of life given to her and damn what courage that took.
That’s another thing we all know about Vickie: she had courage, even when she was afraid or angry or sad, she stayed present for it. She did not duck or dive out of her disease or her life just because she got handed a horrible diagnosis, a reprieve and then a return. She was so honest about where she was whenever she was there. She sought treatment aggressively even when she didn’t want to fight anymore for the sake of those who loved her.
The thing I miss the most about Vickie, however, is her irrepressible sense of humor even in the darkest circumstances. What I remember every time we talked was no matter how many tears or fears or angry feelings we shared, by the end we were laughing. This was not the laughter of denial but of a kind of joy, a realization that in that moment no matter what we were both still alive and sharing that time together, along with the absurdity of whatever situation had befallen her or me or us both.
Because here’s the thing, no matter how many happy endings I want, we all die in the end. That’s about all we do know. Vickie got ripped away too young and the anger and sadness I feel about that is close to limitless, because it never seems fair to me when someone so vibrant, so beautiful and so hungry for life who has family, friends, a husband and especially a son who love and need her dies. But the way she faced it and the way her courage inspired courage in those of us around her to all face her mortality (our mortality) is the gift to us all.
That gift cannot replace Vickie, especially for Joe and David. I know that. I am not certain it’s a gift I particularly even want, but it is a gift nonetheless.
Thank you Vickie for having graced us on this earth and shared your precious time with each of us. Thank you for showing us all how it’s done: how precious our time is, how precious we are to each other and what love really means.
Good-bye my dear friend. I will never forget you.