Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lisa's Garden

Lisa Bonchek Adams


All day long, there's been a weight on my heart, because someone I never met has died.

Lisa Bonchek Adams had metastatic breast cancer. She blogged here. She tweeted here. I was one of her readers, but we never exchanged words. I wasn't a friend. She had plenty of friends already, and they hurt a lot worse than I do today. So do her husband and three children, and her parents, who have lost their beloved daughter. She was only 45. 

Lisa tweeted this message regularly, usually first thing in the morning: Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can't find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.

She persevered. In fact, a week before she died, she shared a cache of garden photos taken over the summer. It was apparent that things were serious, but she wasn't a complainer. Nor was she a martyr. That was how she set herself apart in my mind. She hated her disease, hated it with everything she had, was not going to conceal its awfulness for a second. But she made it a point to love her life just as fiercely. She lived honestly, guided by a clarity of vision, always educating others about her setbacks and treatments, not because she relished the attention but because in sharing and educating, she found a way to control a fraction of her fate. She was famous on Twitter for her #mondaypleads, in which she begged her followers to make a healthcare appointment they'd been putting off. And people listened. Through her educating and "nagging," she likely saved countless lives. 

In her case, that's not hyperbole. Lisa didn't exaggerate. I wouldn't dare do so on her behalf. 

When I was walking the dog yesterday, I noticed the beauty of the snow. Yes, it was beautiful, in spite of my winter-sourness at this time of year. The sun was fierce, but there was still snow lining the branches of the woods by our house. The sky was a tonic of blue. Birds were darting over my head, robins were singing their little hearts out. I could feel springtime in the air, even as my feet slid out from under me. 

But the beauty hurt, because Lisa wasn't there to see it. I thought about her children, the youngest of whom is nine. I don't care what kind of preparation they had: one minute their mother was there, the next minute she was not. You can't prepare for that. Even Lisa, queen of memory boxes and advanced directives, couldn't prepare them for that. And so they're suffering today. And so, even when spring finally comes, they'll keep a sliver of winter in their hearts. Not just this year, but always.  

I was just a stranger. But I wanted Lisa to live until the spring, or summer. Even when it seemed apparent that she wasn't going to make it. I wanted her to see her garden again. I didn't want her to die in the cold.

Of course, she didn't. She died, at home, surrounded by her family. And she died having planted thousands of seeds in the hearts of those who knew her, or felt like they did. Over the years, her garden will grow, and cast seeds of its own. Who knows how far the wind will carry them? None of us can know the impact of a single life lived so fully in the sun. 

So Lisa will persevere. Her children will continue to be the heart of her garden. And through them, her life and love will flourish. 

While I'm thankful today to have been brushed by her beauty, even a little.    


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If you'd like to donate to Lisa Bonchek Adams' metastatic breast cancer research fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering, please go here. Less than 5% of breast cancer funds go toward metastatic breast cancer research, in spite of the fact that 20-30% of breast cancer patients will eventually have a metastases. Every bit helps. 

And please, make a healthcare appointment if you've been putting one off. 


9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, such losses diminish us all a little. And yet, her existence buoyed us as well.

Wendy said...

Beautiful and touching post, Sarah.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charles and Wendy. I appreciate it.

strugglingwriter said...

Well said. May we all make a difference like she did.

Paul

ashivani said...

Hey, I am sorry to hear about the loss of such a wonderful person...but like you said 'None of us can know the impact of a single life lived so fully in the sun.'Let's hope her kindhearted efforts go a long way. TC

Sarah Hina said...

Paul, you said it.

Ashivani, I'm certain they will.

Thanks so much for coming by. :)

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Saya sangat bersyukur atas rahmat yg diberikan kepada saya dibulan ini karna alhamdulillah melalui MBAH RAWAIRE saya sekaran sudah bisa sukses atas nomor yg diberikan kepada saya dan saya yg dulunya cuma seorang TKW dari singapur yg gajinya tidak pernah mencukupi kebutuhan keluarga saya dikampun dan alhamdulillah berkat bantuan MBAH RAWAIRE kini saya sudah bisa pulang kampun,saya bersama keluarga dikampun sudah punya usaha sendiri dan saya tidak pernah menyanka kalau saya bisah seperti ini,jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH RAWAIRE di nomor 085-316-106-111...karna alhamdulillah saya menan nomor togel dari MBAH dan kalau uang indonesia 750 juta,,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya dari IBU RISKA.untuk lebih lenkapnya silahkan buka SITUS MBAH RAWAIRE

Aniket Thakkar said...

I had never heard of Lisa before. She sure was one awesome lady.

"Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can't find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere."

Her thoughts, in bits, resonate with those of David Foster Wallace too. Which must add to your misery. You should know how much an online friendship can mean to a person, with someone you have never even met. I'm sure she inspired and saved quite a few by the way she carried herself, right through to the end.

Thank you for sharing a small bit of her, with us.

Sarah Hina said...

I still miss her. Thanks, you.