Monday, March 15, 2010

I met my friend Michelle pretty much at the same time, and in the same place, as I met Susan, almost 18 years ago. Where Susan was quieter and more reserved (until you got to know her!), Michelle was always wildly enthusiastic about anything she did, and I've never known anyone else who lived her life with such 'gusto'! Every single day, and everything she did, was not just an experience, but an adventure. And no wonder ... when I met Michelle, in 1993, she was already a two-time gynecological cancer survivor, so she really knew how precious her life was.

When I met Michelle, she had been married to her childhood sweetheart, Ken, since she was 18. They'd raised two daughters, and Michelle was looking for a career change after several years in real estate and property management. We became really close friends and I got to know her daughters, her Mom and her brothers, who all lived here on the Island. For pretty much every special event in her family, she and Ken would 'book a cruise' on the Wind Walker -- over the years, we've celebrated birthdays, babies (her brother's), anniversaries ... and sad events, like the death of her 'little brother', Neil, several years ago.

The cancer came back, yet again, about 10 years ago, and over a period of several months, Michelle underwent surgery, chemo and radiation, yet again. At first, it seemed as if they 'got it' again ... but at her 6-month check-up, they told her that they hadn't, and that she would have to have yet another surgery. Michelle had been changing her eating habits pretty drastically by then, and learning about various alternative therapies -- so she declined the surgery, and I think at the time they may have intimated that she wouldn't live very long without it.

That was nine years ago.

Together we launched (the site was taken down about a year ago when she became too ill to keep it up) because Michelle really wanted to tell her story, document the changes she was making in her lifestyle, and let women know that there were lots of options to surgery.

During the time we were working on that project together, Michelle and I had a falling out -- she said something really hurtful to me at the time, and we didn't speak for a few years. Even though she eventually made contact again and we tried to re-kindle the old friendship, she never took those words back or apologized, so we were never as close again -- but I never stopped admiring her determination to live her life to the absolute fullest.

Some of Michelle's best adventures happened in this last nine years! And I'll always have many, many wonderful memories of times we shared, in her garden, and here on the Wind Walker.

We went up-Island for Michelle's service on Saturday, and I was tickled when Ken mentioned, in his eulogy of her, our times together here on the Wind Walker.

"People come in to our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime..."


source said...

What a true friend you are... a beautiful memory and thanks for sharing it. xx

Monica said...

Sad news, Marilyn.

Grace said...

what a lovely tribute, and what a generous heart you have, sorry for another loss in your life.