The text message arrived on Saturday. I read it standing in the middle of a furniture store. It said, “Laura left us today. I’ll call in a day or so when I can put a coherent sentence together. Love, Ed.”
Ed is Laura’s husband. I later found out he texted me just 63 minutes after Laura took her last breath, surrounded by people she loved and who loved her. The text was a Herculean effort and Ed knew I would understand better than anyone that he couldn’t call. He and Laura supported me when my beloved Bill died of the same pancreatic cancer that claimed Laura. In fact, we all met in the waiting room at UCSF the day Bill and Laura underwent the CT-Scans that would confirm this awful diagnosis.
Shopping alone, I cried out loud,, “Oh, no!” in such distress that another shopper, a kind woman asked, “Are you okay?” I told this stranger, with tears in my eyes, “A dear friend of mine died.” She murmured her condolences as I tried to catch my breath.
Laura was a teacher by profession and also by nature. During the four and a half years she spent living with cancer she taught everyone who knew her how to live and love to the fullest. Indeed, her last FaceBook posting was less than 66 hours before she transitioned and she wrote, “I’m not running these days. I cut up some of my race tshirts to make this quilt. Reminds me to be strong and stay in the race! This post is why the text took me by surprise. I knew she was dying; I just didn’t think it was imminent. (Nor did she, I suspect.)
I am writing this to you because so many of you have followed Laura’s journey with me. A few years ago, some of you donated money to help her get the treatment that would ultimately prolong her life. It worked, my friends! Because of your kindness and generosity, Laura got to do so much more than anyone anticipated.
Laura was the very best sort of Influencer. She led by example. She set goals and then stayed focused on them. Her initial goal, when she received her diagnosis, was to live long enough to see her daughter Lily married to Joe. She not only accomplished that, she was there to help with and celebrate the birth of her daughter’s son Grayson a year later. In the Summer of 2013, Laura and Ed danced at their son Turner’s wedding to Celia and the following year, got to meet their second grandchild, Turner’s son JeTeo.
Laura used the Law of Attraction brilliantly. She never allowed doctors to tell her how long she had to live. She didn’t want that in her head. She was focused on life and that’s what she lived, all the while doing what she could to stop, or at the very least, slow down the cancer that would ultimately claim her.
Pancreatic cancer is a debilitating disease and yet, I saw a photo, posted by one of Laura’s many friends, of Laura, just days before her departure, dancing exuberantly. She was flashing that famous smile, the smile that proclaimed, “Isn’t life AMAZING?
More than anything, Laura taught us all the power of NOW! There’s a famous quote by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that sums up Laura’s attitude beautifully:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past,
If you are anxious, you are living in the future,
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
Laura was at peace when she left and I know she’s at peace now. But do not think “at peace” means she is resting. She is out there, dancing with my Bill and leading others in a Conga Line. If I know Laura, ever the teacher, she has already taught her Higher Power a few new dance moves. She lived with enthusiasm and I’m certain she is still doing so, unencumbered by the body that slowed her down.
See you later, dear friend.