Saturday, May 27, 2017

Christine

"Nothing can make up for the absence of  someone whom we love, 
and it would be wrong to try and find a substitute;
we must simply hold out and see it through. 

That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time, it is a great consolation, 
for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us. 
It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap;
God doesn't fill it, but on the contrary  keeps it empty and so helps us keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain. "
Dietrich Bonhoeffer




I remember when I first met Christine.
She was described to be me by my husband as an old High School friend who was a "shit ton of fun!"
My husband doesn't have many people that he would call "friend" from his High School days, let alone anyone he describes as ALOT of fun, so naturally,  my interest right from the start was peaked.
My version of meeting her was that right from the start she felt like family.
Well, and then there is her version, she says I walked out with an Italian woman's attitude hand on my hip and the look of  "best not be trying to crouch in on my man sista," on my face. 
Her version is of course more colorful than I remember. 
We will still be arguing about this first embrace for all eternity ... I told her there might be playback reels in heaven and so that will hopefully settle who's right on this one. 
   But truly, within moments of our first embrace we two became beloved friends. 
We had kindred spirits and a soul sister love right from the start.

I met her when her son Benat was the same age as my oldest son Solomon, only 5 years old.
At this point in her life she had already survived two craniotomies , and seemed to be the picture of health to me.
We instantly bonded over family and the love of our heritages, her's being Basque, mine being Italian.
She taught me the language of passion for life, and a few choice words in Basque as well. 
"Puty Las Wah"- being an all time favorite for the whole clan now.
Translation- Loose Butt to be said after ... well a good loud Fart!!

Shortly after meeting and bonding instantly she attended a women's retreat with me in Lake Tahoe.
We bonded further over our mutual love for the elderly, baseball, babies, wine, the Lake, music, and being moms.
WE may or may not have smuggled wine into that women's retreat... I'll admit to nothing!
I remember falling in love with her heart and soul, and crying out to God for her life, and for that Bitch Cancer never to return and take this beloved friend away from me. 
But, The bitch returned.
We held our breath until the MRI's came in, and I was beyond relieved, and once again astounded that
She kicked it's ass once again.
 
And then it seemed the bitch moved away and left us all feeling a little too comfortable for while.
I moved away and she came to visit first with her whole family and then later she came again for another visit, and I had her all to myself. 
She was wanting so desperately to have a different story.
One that didn't involve death and dying and that disgusting C word!
 We lived fully in every moment of fresh fish from the Seattle waters to the nights out by the camp fire. 

What a treasure that time was. 
She gave me the book Broken Open and she inscribed a love note to me in the front of this book that I will treasure more now than ever before. 
 
We talked about life, death, and all that goes on in between.
In her last months here we had many a conversation about this book Broken Open.
So many of our conversations were about the bigger picture. 
When she came to Seattle the second time to visit, she helped me get my shit organized and slim down the gross amount of hats I had collected over the years, and didn't have room for in my tiny 800 sq ft cabin. 
We laughed until I think I peed my pants and then laughed some more as we tried on every ridiculous hat I had collected over the years.
 
On that trip, and being out of her element of not cleaning house everyday in her own home(she kept the CLEANEST house btw) She was determined to get down to the bottom of my families dirty clothes hamper, which I laughed at and said... "More power to ya sister!" 
You know you're  family when you let someone do your dirty laundry! 
With 4 kids empty clothes hampers like perfectly clean houses, were a distant memory, and almost a myth in my life at that point. 
I'll never forget how happy she was to have an empty hamper even if only for a moment, until kids came in with muddy pants from the rain. 
She was a hard worker, who didn't like to sit still for very long. 
I know she got this gene from her dad and her mom, both of whom she loved with all her heart. 
When I went to visit her only a few weeks after her 4th and final craniotomy she was once again astounding me with her strong will to live, and as she was picking up dog shit in the backyard and cracking me right up about it,  I was astounded at the fight she still had left in her. 
And later when I left that cold day in January I cried, because I knew this was it.
But like wonder woman she just never quit. 
She fought the good fight.
She fought LIKE A CHAMP!! 

On another visit before I came over I wanted to do something, anything to make her feel better... 
She asked me for cookies.
I burnt them. 
We laughed at how here I was trying to help her feel better, and in the end she made ME feel better.
If you met her in that 12 year span that she fought like a warrior against this beast, you wouldn't even have known that she had brain cancer unless she chose to tell you, because she never complained.
Not even ONE tiny bit.

She was not a victim to Brain Cancer but a survivor, and one that spent the last 12 years of her life trying to help others who sit down one day in a Dr.'s office and are told "You have brain cancer." 
Shortly after her first diagnosis of a brain tumor, when most people would have been devastated beyond belief,  she joined a brain cancer forum in the attempt to help strangers process this horrible diagnosis. 
I mean, WHO DOES THAT?
Our warrior woman Christine did.
She was without a doubt a warrior, armed always with humor, hard work, brilliant even WITH Brain Cancer, and she was stubborn as all get out!! 
She wasn't about to let this beat her, or rob her of her time with her son, or tell her what she could or couldn't do.
So she fought, and fought, and fought some more.

I'll never understand as long as I live why she was given the battle she was handed at such a young age. 
But,  I do know that her courage and passion for the short time she was here has forever changed me, and I'm beyond grateful for EVERY moment. 
Every meal.
Every glass of wine shared.
Every song enjoyed together.
Every sunset in Tahoe. 
Every Pig kill in January.
Every warm summer evening on her back porch.
She was and will continue to be a precious gift to my heart.
She gives me hope that even in death you can make others laugh.
If Christine taught me anything its that life doesn't permit us the luxury of time to meet strangers.

She seriously would make friends standing in line at the grocery store. 
When the clouds of grief and sorrow pass and the sun peeks it's head out from behind those dark clouds of a love lost too soon, then is the time to remember that life is for the living.
Her spirit is too big to ever leave us.
In every story that we share and every memory that we have had with her she will continue to be with us and live on in that way.

But, I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is still ALIVE and no longer in pain.

She said she was really looking forward to giving us all some shit down here in her afterlife!
And, Oh what an AFTER LIFE ON EARTH IN HEAVEN she is having now!! 
Anyone who knew her knows that heaven's gates are having one hell of a party right this very moment. 
Thats right I put heaven and hell in the same sentence... and you know what?
It's appropriate.
Because that's what life here for her for the last 12 years was. 
Heaven to have more time with her son Benat... but Hell to live with Brain Cancer for most of his young life.
Now, she is where every tear is wiped dry and there is only good. 
No more pain.
No more sorrow.
No more TRUMP!!
(she would appreciate that last sentence more than I can even express in words)
  
She wasn't a fan of traditional funerals and so she won't be having one if her wishes are kept. 
She asked only that when we found the time, that we would  go to one of her favorite places at Silver Lake and remember her unbelievably beautiful life, that we all raise a glass to this Beautiful Life and all that it entails. 
I will honor her life by choosing to be kind to strangers, loving my family with unwavering devotion, and giving out as many hugs and kisses(on both sides of the cheeks) to as many people who will let me. 
I will scream GO GIANTS at the top of my lungs (even though I'm a Bo Sox Fan) and savor the time around a big long table with good food and beloved friends and family.
 

My life is richer, fuller, and just all around better for having known this amazing soul.
My heart is heavy for her son Benat, Husband Dan, and Parents Annie and Jean Pierre.
Please keep them all in your prayers as they will be living in the gap until they are reunited again with their beloved.
As long as I'm alive here on earth,  I will carry her in my heart and be forever grateful for all the memories. 


6 comments:

Chemane René said...

What a beautiful tribute to Christine! Love you Noël!

Words of Wisdom from Izzy's Ma said...

Whaaaaa😭😰😟😮💐🍾💖✨😘😇

Unknown said...

Absolutely beautiful post about Christine. 💕 I knew her from our days on YASG. My husband was diagnosed with GBM in March 2006, but sadly passed away in Sept. 2008. Christine was so sharp and funny as hell! I am so sad to learn of her passing. I honestly never thought it would happen; she seemed to be destined for nothing, especially that, to stop her. My heart goes out to her family. This is such a loss. 😢

No(dot dot)el said...

Thank you for sharing this. It means the world to me to be in this gap together with others who have loved and lost and in some way is such a comfort to know her love continues to grow !! All the love ❤️

No(dot dot)el said...

Love you momma Nash❤️❤️❤️

No(dot dot)el said...

Thank you Chemay may I love you too ❤️

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