Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Longest Year: Laura Remembered



I don't even know what to say or where to start. How do you celebrate the life of a woman who completely changed yours when she's no longer here, and how do you try to put any of that into words?

I found Laura after I had started blogging about my own experiences. One day I reached out to her to let her know how helpful her blog was and, to my surprise, she responded. We began to talk about our experiences and, while there are some differences, our stories are extremely similar. Those similarities just grew with our friendship. We always kind of just knew how the other was doing, even without talking, because we did the same things when we felt awful. We even got engaged the same year to the most amazing and supportive men I've ever known. I'm biased when it comes to Theron, but not when it comes to Laura's Matt. The two of them are exactly what partners should be, and I hope they both know how much of a difference they've made in the lives of two chronically sick chicks. We were so looking forward to planning our weddings together. I found my wedding dress a few months after she passed and, on a day where you're supposed to cry happy tears, I cried because I knew I couldn't share that , or any aspect of the happiest day of my life, with her.

One of my favorite things we had in common was our sense of humor. Many people get grumpy due to pain, especially when it is chronic and/or severe. Laura was one of the first people I really met who, like me, tried to cheer herself up with humor and never wanted to treat others poorly. She would ask how you were doing, even if she was in the hospital and clearly doing worse. The week before she died, she and I were discussing some pain I was having and she was trying to help me figure out what it was while she was in the hospital with organs failing. Even if she was expressing frustrations with pain, she never seemed to complain. That was part of what alarmed me the weekend before she died - she was talking about how much pain she was in and how nothing was helping. She and Emily from Chronic Curve were discussing the pain and possible ways to deal with it. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know just how bad it was.

That was Sunday night, and she passed away on Monday. I found out on Tuesday through one of her friends, but in reality I think I already knew - we all did. There are very few deaths that can bring the rheum and spoonie community to their knees, and Laura's was one of them.

As hard as it is to say, there are some good things that have come out of Laura's passing. Out of the ending of her story, so many people have been brought closer together. Emily and I have forged a friendship along with others that include Matt's mum, Many who knew her have taken up activism in her name, and those of us who were already activists have a renewed passion for fighting these diseases in any way we can.
There is nothing I could say that could cover everything she was and continues to be for me. She has been a sister, a confidant, a best friend, therapist, personal motivator, and doctor all in one. She continues to be many of those, despite her physical absence.

I will be forever grateful for the things she gave me, both in life and in death, but especially for her catchphrase that gets me through every day: "Living with Still's is still living."

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