These days my friend Heidi, and her sister Rindala, and her sisters friends, and their two brothers, the families of their husbands and their wives, their mother, cousins, adopted brothers and sisters, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, students, all the saints who pray and a circle of influence that wraps the globe are in mourning.
The unexpected happened. The unimaginable. The eldest sister, Denell, died February 11, 2009 of malignant melanoma. She was 47. Her diagnosis had occurred eight months earlier.
Over a twenty-seven year career Denell taught in Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Japan, Kuwait and before her illness, in Oman, where she taught fifth and sixth graders at The American National School at Muscat. She was a teacher, a leader, a friend, a daughter, the woman at the party you'd want to hear laugh.
As news of her death spread friends and former students immediately formed a group and posted photos on Facebook. An international community signed on and started writing. She loved chocolate, candles, lemonade, good humor. She was a fan of close-up face shots like the one above, with her sister Heidi (left) and Rin (in the middle). Two years ago I was in France with Heidi and she set up the same shot.
We all ache when our friends do. Sometimes we think we know what they are going through. Sometimes we don't. Stages of grief are a myth. It hurts like hell and then suddenly, it doesn't hurt quite as much.
What we do know is this: that you loved her. You will always miss her. And if you ever want to talk, we drop everything for that moment, just to sit, and listen.