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.