Rachel Cheetam Moro died on February 6, 2012 from metastatic breast cancer. She was my friend. She was supposed to turn 42 years old on her birthday last week. She was supposed to still be a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. Of course she is still these things, but not in the way she should be.
Rachel was supposed to be attending her high school reunion later this year, or at least be thinking about going. She was supposed to still be taking care of Newman, her lively little dog that she loved so much. She was supposed to still be writing her blog with that smart, witty way she had with words.
She was supposed to be doing all these things and so much more.
Rachel was supposed to simply be living her life.
But instead it was cut short, way too short.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel lately.
I’ve been thinking about last August when her birthday was approaching and a few of her on-line friends and I decided to send her some birthday gifts, small trinkets really, to try to keep her spirits up a bit. You see by last August cancer’s grip was tightening up, though we didn’t realize just how much. Her world was shrinking and that was really hard for Rachel.
Rachel belonged in a “big world.”
We didn’t think it would be her last birthday, or at least I sure didn’t.
Shortly after Rachel opened up her birthday package from me, she sent me an email thanking me. In true Rachel form, she sent me the cutest picture you can image of Newman helping to open it. Since Rachel was a dog lover like me, she knew I’d get a kick out of that and I did.
That was so like Rachel, to always think of the other person.
A few days later, a hand-written thank you note arrived in the mail. I could tell it had been difficult for her to write it and, in fact, in it she apologized for her “unruly” penmanship. By last August because of her cancer’s progression, Rachel’s dominant left hand was causing her trouble, so she was forced to write with her other, less practiced hand.
I treasure that painstakingly written note and never tire of reading the words it contains. To me those carefully written words look beautifully perfect. The message they convey is even more precious.
Her note also included a gift for me, a tiny sticky notes pad, which I don’t intend to ever actually use. I’ll just keep it as a tiny treasure.
I’ll take it out from time to time, look at it, read the silly message and smile as I remember.
Sometimes I still visit Rachel’s blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, I’m not even entirely sure why. It’s comforting somehow to find it’s always still there, a piece of Rachel that remains. I like knowing it’s there, something to count on, just like Rachel. I also like knowing it’s still there because I think I know how much it meant to her.
It’s so important for Rachel’s words to live on, continuing to educate about things people might not know, but need to.
I know she taught me a thing or two.
I often wonder how and why Rachel stumbled across my blog that day, soon to be two years ago. I wonder why she decided to leave a comment when most readers do not.
I wonder if it was something I said, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
I wonder if it was because she liked a photo of my dogs; undoubtedly, this is more likely.
Or I wonder if it was by sheer chance; in all likelihood, this is probably the case.
In the end, I know it doesn’t matter how we came to know each other.
I know it only matters that we did.
Have you grieved for any online friends who’ve died?
What treasure(s) from a loved one do you hang on to?
Do you have a memory of them or of Rachel to share?