I know you’ll never read this, but I have a lot of feelings and I need to get them out so you (and everyone else) are going to have to bear with me, k? Okay.
You and I had a pretty typical 21st century 30-something friendship… meaning we met at work and communicated mostly through text, email, chat programs…with daily/weekly phone calls and monthly actual face to face human interaction…usually accompanied by margaritas at Venga Venga or beers at the Down Valley Tavern. (Did you know DVT closed? WTF, dude?)
I started working at the mountain hotels on May 9, 2016… about 10 days before you were diagnosed with Stage III, Triple Negative, BRCA positive (read: super aggressive) breast cancer on your 30th birthday. Being a remote employee I had access to a computer at the hotel through an account with GoToMyPC…which you quickly learned about and asked to borrow as you managed through your treatment while working from hospitals, 3+ hour car rides to Denver, hotel rooms, in your kitchen on steroids, and everything in between. The text “you in goto?” became a daily staple between the two of us as we learned not to kick the other out. From there the conversation bloomed into shared experiences and differences of treatment and surgeries, mutual hate of chemo ports and love of spreadsheets, a joint passion for crafting and of course, The Walking Dead. (Don’t worry you’re not missing much, I’ve heard the new season sucks and now Rick is leaving the show so whatever they are dead to me. See what I did there?)
We were a badass female breast cancer fighting Revenue and Finance team to be reckoned with…with the forecast accuracy and boob scars to prove it. We equated our roles of me making the money and you keeping everyone from spending it to a huge bus where I’m at the front with the pedal to the medal, with you at the back just trying to catch everything flying out the windows. Our reciprocated admiration would claim each was the other’s hero. For you never failing to believe that this next treatment would be the one to turn it all around; for me going through treatment and surgery with young girls at home, all while working full time.
By the winter of 2017 you were officially my work wife, and the tortuous reign of the boss-who-shall-not-be-named began, placing us between the rock and hard place of integrity and insubordination. During this time I remember you screaming “I HOPE HE CHOKES ON A DICK” over the phone on a RFTA bus on your way home from work…for me a welcomed sign that you were still as fierce as ever, not quitting the fight any time soon. On one particular harrowing day in which we uncovered a costly mistake at our stepchild hotel, you told me about a project for which you were saving wine corks with memories written on them. You told me that day’s said “Just burn the Wildwood down”… your work life and true love of crafts intersecting.
Through this you received a well-deserved, unbelievable promotion to Director of Finance (a job that you had been doing anyway for close to 2 years but who’s counting) at the same time receiving close to daily radiation treatment…all while answering every problem anyone encountered with a resounding “how can I help?” Battle after battle fought over emails and in the arena of infusion chair or radiation table ensued until a quiet halt last summer when Voldemort was taken down due to a glaring negligence we uncovered together, and you resigned to a second leave of absence to treat your growing radiation recall wounds. (“Don’t google it” you said, “but if you do, mine is worse than the worst picture out there.”)
Sometime this past winter after I had moved on to a new job and we had fallen out of touch, you shared that you had been diagnosed Stage IV with mets to your brain and lungs. Although this was devastating news, enthusiastic as ever you told me how this was “really a good thing” as your cancer had mutated, no longer Triple Negative and therefore more treatable. “And… I’m finally planning my wedding!” you said, your unstoppable optimism the driving force in you never backing down. You had cancer, but cancer never had you.
You died on a Friday just over a week before the breathtaking wedding you planned. You and your darling Nick got married at the hospital 20 days earlier. After I read the news, Nate and I took the girls to the creek in Golden where we went on your birthday last year, to remember that day when we ate at the Table Mountain Inn and then let the girls play in the water. The sun was bright, the water was cold, and somehow I stopped crying.
Nate, the girls, and I spent the next weekend at our old hotel so that we could attend your memorial reception. The memories of you were everywhere I turned. Your party was beautiful and there on the centerpieces were the wine corks. I had told Ally the story and there with memories like “Italian night” and “Glenwood Wine Fest – Classy Drunks” Zach found it. “Just burn the Wildwood down 6/29/17” Tears came to my eyes when I realized it was the same day you texted that picture with the pirate cake pop…our world had been crashing down at that moment last year and you were laughing your ass off, like the badass you were.
Today Timehop told me a year ago tonight was the night I drove the girls out to Aurora to have dinner with you. We laughed when the waiter came over and Lucy yelled “Mac and Cheese!!” before he even had a chance to say hello and you gave Sydney tall girl advice, and tips for her upcoming birthday sleepover. We talked for hours. Past the girls bedtime I loaded them up in the car and watched you walk back over to your room at the Marriott where you would stay up all night roid raging before your chemo the next day, sending feisty emails and eating chocolate cake. It was the last time I saw you.
Really though, you’re still with me…
…when I’m blasting Die Antwoord, the South African Rap music that no one else has heard of, and shit is getting weird as I spend 2 hours on a spreadsheet that will save me 10 minutes every morning
…when I see pictures of hairless cats or memes about cheese on the internet
…when I have to go up against a mansplainer at work and carefully and calmly prove him wrong with numbers, because facts and figures don’t lie…BOOM
…when my girls and your cousin’s girls played giant Jenga at your reception – young women that are smart and have strong intuition and know how to problem solve, just like you. (BTW, Lucy says she’s so good at Jenga because she “just makes it not fall down” and also she’s so good at it she “blows her own mind”)
The things I learned from you are simple yet powerful. Be humble, be kind, but don’t take any shit. Ask people how you can help them. Be optimistic, plan for the future no matter what lies ahead. And if anyone ever tries to make you sacrifice your integrity, tell them to choke on a dick. (Ok maybe not to their face or on a bus full of people but you know this.)
Most importantly the quote your brother shared at your memorial from the letter you wrote to him really says it all:
“Take time to laugh every day, in the end it’s the only thing that matters.”
Crap, I’ve been rambling on with all this shit I never got to tell you and I’m crying and I could go on forever, just like all of our conversations. Thanks for letting me share my feelings with you and everyone else. I love you and I miss you and I can’t believe you’re gone.
Sisters in spreadsheets,