I was going to go to yoga tonight. Yoga has become my therapy, but I was pretty sure I would start bawling my eyes out in class . . . I decided to write instead.
I wrote an article on my blog about two years ago where I interviewed my friend Paula Hess who was a mom surviving with terminal cancer. Paula passed today, August 2, 2016. I’ll be honest, I’ve been sitting here for the past hour rereading the blog I wrote, or rather she wrote, where she shares her cancer journey, what happened, how she mothered through it all, and what someone can do when their friend has cancer. I know Paula has been through hell, but man, did she handle it with grace. That’s why I keep rereading the blog – because I can picture my friend telling me out loud, exactly what she wrote in the interview. Her pure honesty in simply saying: “My sons don’t remember a time when I didn’t have cancer.” Her respectable boldness in saying “Since the media mainly portrays women who endure their year of adjuvant treatment and come out as pink beribboned survivors, you naturally assume the same fate for yourself. The reality is that no one knows why 30% of breast cancer becomes metastatic and only 2% of research funding goes toward Stage IV breast cancer.” Her irreplaceable quirkiness in her bio,”In her next life, she has decided she will be a super-crunchy home birthing midwife.” This was Paula at her best – truthful, smart, witty, and unique.
Paula is absolutely unforgettable. As I spoke with another friend of mine tonight, who met Paula around the same time I did, she’s on “that list.” For us, she was on that list of people you could always call, no matter how long it had been. I love the history and wonderful memories I have with Paula. I unfortunately, wasn’t there for a lot of the sadness and the grief, and for that I will always be sorry. I was, however, there for the nights of laughter to the point of peeing in our pants and the late night talks that only two young women can share.
Paula and I emailed back and forth over the past few weeks. I was hopeful to see her but had no idea how quickly things had progressed. I am incredibly grateful that I had a chance to communicate with her in her final days. I will always remember Paula as I do in the picture above (she’s the one with the dark hair right below me with her eyes closed). This picture is a perfect representative of the brightness Paula brought to those around her. It’s from a UDA Camp at either Northern Illinois University or University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (since I see several Minnesota staff with us). Paula was our Head Instructor, our leader in teaching hundreds of junior high and high school kids to dance. Paula LOVED dance – everything about it. I can only hope she is somewhere dancing right now.
Sometimes a sun salutation feels like the right solution but tonight reminiscing about my dear friend brings me tears of happiness and tears of joy. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
** Read my interview with Paula HERE: http://sarahaley.com/lifestyle/my-own-personal-super-hero-you-have-to-meet-her/