The first time I “met” Laura was when I was visiting my sister at her place in Madison. It was a tiny house that the owner had somehow managed to divide into two units. My sister and my brother in law lived in the larger unit – half of the ground floor and all of the upstairs – and Laura lived in an efficiency on the other side of the ground floor. I’ve always had allergies and when I suddenly had an attack – which consisted of sneezing 5 or 6 times in a row – from behind the paper thin walls I heard, “Bless you!” To which my sister whispered, “That’s Laura.” It wasn’t until the next day that I actually met her. Slowly, surely, Laura became a part of all our lives. Even when my sister left Madison, Laura remained. Frequent visits, phone calls, random emails, Laura was always there.
Then it hit. Laura had cancer. It didn’t look good. We all braced for the worst, but Laura, she just plowed right through it. Year after year, we expected the worst and she just kept living her life. Through chemo, constant tests, and surgery after surgery – almost 10 years of struggle – Laura held on and made us all laugh along the way.
This week Laura died. From my sister’s account – she just got tired of fighting, weary of beating the odds time after time and probably overdrawn on her miracle credit limit. I’ll miss Laura terribly, even though I hadn’t seen her in years. It will be hard to feel closure on all of this from halfway around the world, to really comprehend that she’s gone. I can’t stand at her funeral and mourn her loss with all those that loved her. I can’t sit with my sister and cry. I can only read an email that says she died.
These are the things you miss when you move so far away – not the taste of good Mexican food, not the falling snow on your face, and not a live Wilco concert with 3 encores. You miss your family & friends and these singular moments when they need you – or you need them.
Goodbye, Laura. We’ll miss you.