I still remember when my fiance, Gabe, and I first met Ms. Holly. We were riding on a shuttle bus from the airport to the LiveStrong Summit conference that everyone on the shuttle had been chosen to attend. Gabe and I are chatting in our seat and I overheard this gorgeous young lady in front of me trying to make conversation with a lady next to her. Originally, all I heard was, "Yeah, I have Ewing's Sarcoma-it's a really rare type of cancer." I knew I had to talk to her-that's the same cancer family as mine (Askin's tumor). On our way out of the bus, I caught her attention and told her. She was 20, from Massachusetts and did not know a soul at the conference and was so sharp, witty, fascinating and inspiring.
From that point forward, anytime we were not in meetings, Holly, Gabe and I were quite the trio. We had meals together, watched the World Series, and we even took Holly along with us to visit with my cousin and have food and watch the 'famous bats' in Austin. We joked that she would be perfect for my brother who is around the same age.
Since then we have kept in touch and even talked about visiting one another. We had hoped she would make it this down this summer for our wedding. I vaguely knew she had relapsed last fall-she was SO good at being upbeat in her emails and not wanting to put that burden on anyone, she rarely mentioned it. I guess I should have figured something was up when a few weeks ago, I did not hear back from her. I never really knew her friends and family so I did not know what had happened.
I found out today via a friend's blog of her passing. I was stunned-she is the last person one would expect not to make it...a college volleyball player-so vivacious and strong...another amazing friend of mine...not here anymore. It's hard to make sense of it and it's somewhat surreal. But I always come back to the fact that I feel peaceful about death (sometimes) and that her short time here affected SO many people...volleyball teams from colleges around the country rallied around her...her family has been fighting to figure out why Holly was part of a cancer cluster in their community-a much elevated rate of sarcoma in kids and young adults.
Her smile, her attitude about life, everything about her will live on in all of us who knew her and even those who did not. I will be adding another amazing person to my angel shelf.
Click here for an awesome post by Heidi Adams, written about death.
Click here for more about Holly.
Today, I am grateful for: Holly's life and friendship and inspiration, life, friends, family and God.
I'm so sorry Rach. I'll say a prayer for Holly's family and for you. I bet Kailie, Randy, Jess and Aaron were all there to greet her in Heaven...any friend of yours will definitely be a friend of theirs! :) Call me if you need to talk. Love you little sister.
RIP Holly..and I hope you find some peace knowing Holly is no longer sick or suffering anymore. I hope her family finds the answers they need about the ES cluster. That is scary knowing there is a cancer cluster, esp. when it is sarcoma..one that well..shouldn't be clustering!
What a loss!
One of my best friends just got diagnosed, so I didn't keep up with reading my usual blogs. I heard a lot about Holly through different blogs/websites and she was a true inspiration for me, still is for that matter.
Her spirit and attitude along the way is what people with or without cancer should aspire.
That is a very kind tribute to your friend. Sad news.
I am so sorry to hear about Holly. It's so hard to hear these things about the people we connect with - I, too, was at the Summit in Austin - and less than a week later, I heard about the passing of a woman at my table who had also been at my table at LiveStrong Day earlier that year.....my thoughts and prayers are with you.
This post came out just as beautiful as I knew it would.
You know I'm always just an email/IM/whatever away, don't hesitate.
I have been meaning to post for some time now. I am Nick Raitt's mom, Lori Brower - you have posted on his site several times. I am very impressed with your blogsite, especially how you end each posting with things you are grateful for.
My husband, Lee Brower, is a co-teacher in "The Secret". His emphasis is always on the power of gratitude. If you would be willing, please provide me an address to send you a "Gratitude Rock" in appreciation of your support of Nick and your attitude of gratitude. My personal email address is: email@example.com.
You have a tremendous reach and strength in your message. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Rachel, what a lovely tribute to Holly. My Google alert has mentioned her a lot recently... sounds like she was quite a young woman. What an awful disease.
Thank you to everyone for your kind messages! I TRULY appreciate it.
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