She'd been battling cancer for nearly four years, and it felt like a weird little fight to someone who wasn't always in the know. She was a tough, determined, awesome woman, and when she was diagnosed, she had the attitude that she would beat it no matter what. Or at least fight it. And she did. With the usual round of treatments, we were told that she beat it and was doing well. Then, months later, we were told that she'd collapsed, and they found a tumor in her head. But we were told that she pretty much beat that, too.
We weren't really well informed about what was going on, how she was doing. For the most part, we assumed that no news was good news, and she looked like she was doing well enough the few times that we were able to see her. We went to her retirement party just last spring, and while she looked older than her mere 64 and didn't quite have the same vitality we used to see in her, her hair was growing back, and she was still the same person we love so much.
When my boyfriend went home over the New Year, he spoke with some of her former colleagues. I don't know if they specifically spoke of her, but again - we assumed that no news was good news.
Yesterday, after I got home from work, my boyfriend asked me if I was familiar with what Hospice Care was. When I told him my knowledge was pretty vague, he informed me that she had been placed in hospice care the night before, and she was essentially being made comfortable. He found out through a group dedicated to her memory on Facebook, which at the time had only about 30 members. Twenty-four hours later, there are 375 members. There is a long line of wall posts from people writing about their memories of her. We were informed, via the group, that she'd passed away at about 10pm that night.
It feels strange to me now, and it did at the time, too, but when I found out that she was in hospice, and had gotten my first good cry out, I turned to Twitter next. I had to say something, and 140 characters seemed about enough for a simple cry of grief and pain. I was hurting (I'm still hurting) and there was the compulsion to express it to the void of the internet. Not because I felt that any of my followers needed to know, not because I wanted expressions of sympathy, but because my Twitter account, as much as this blog, as much as any other of the online spaces I frequent, has become a voice for me. It is as much a voice for me as the one with which I speak to a stranger on the street.
I wish I could go to her funeral, but I don't think things will work out. Knowing that hurts as much as knowing that there is now a world without her. She was a teacher, and a beloved mentor to so many people. She touched my life more profoundly and positively than even some of my own family members were never able to do. My grandfather, who was present in my life up until a few short years ago, died last September, and it didn't affect me nearly as much as her loss.
Work tomorrow will be difficult for me. I was glad to have today off through a natural course of events. But sometimes I still just want to cry and cry. But this post is just one more expression of grief and loss for me, and I'm glad to have made it.