I lost a friend this week.

My friend lost her life.

I knew from the beginning our friendship would end this way.  Yet, I didn’t know how wonderful our friendship would be or how much I would grow from it.  I always knew how much I would miss her.

Kelly was my yoga teacher.  I take classes here in New York designed especially for women like me.  We’ve all had mastectomies or lumpectomies and are now in different stages of recovery or continued battles with cancer or are dealing with the repercussions like lymphedema.  At first I didn’t want to join any group with a large number of women who all had cancer at one time or another.  I feared it would be very sad.  An hour and a half of “whoa is me”.  My fears couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Tari is the main teacher but one day she had a substitute and that was Kelly.  She opened the class with this story by Pema Chodron, which is in her book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

A woman is running from tigers.  There is no escape but to go over a cliff via a hanging vine.  The woman swings out over empty space, free from the pursuing tigers now above her, only to see another group below her, seemingly waiting for her to fall.  She sees a small mouse begin to gnaw at the vine, and in the moment, realizes that her life is in grave danger.  Her attention is distracted by a cluster of wild strawberries growing on the cliff face next to her.  She looks up, she looks down, and she looks at the mouse, then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Sitting on my mat cross-legged with my eyes closed I loved the story and knew immediately we would be friends.  Eventually, a group of us would go out after class for tea.  Kelly had a mastectomy too only she was 5 years ahead of me.  When you are in the midst of having an expander and are moving towards the more “permanent” breast installation, you can’t imagine that life becomes normal around the verbiage and fears cancer comes with.  Kelly was the person I wanted to be after I finished walking through the fires of hell.  Actually, Kelly is someone I would have admired at any time in my life.  Her early career was as a dancer and her lithe carriage remained long after her point shoes were retired.  Her nature was that of what you would expect of a yogi; soft kindness wrapped in a layer of sweetness.  Don’t get me wrong, she knew how to verbally snap you into place when need be but she had a quiet, soothing strength.

It was just a few months after meeting her that she arrived at class completely shaken.  I knew that Kelly’s cancer had metastasized shortly after her mastectomy and later that day learned that after a two-year silence it was back.  This time the lesions were on her liver.  Within weeks, her fiancé moved to Chicago declaring he just wasn’t ready for this.  He didn’t take her or their dog with him.  He did take the income that afforded the apartment she lived in.  By months end, Kelly’s world had changed and she scrambled to find a place to live and begin treatment.  I didn’t know how to help her as she had pride and I knew wouldn’t take money.   Then I came up with the brilliant plan that I would take private lessons.  I gave things up in my own life to pay Kelly weekly to teach me yoga.

That was two years ago.  We weathered many health storms together but what Kelly taught me more that anything was how to live.  I mean really live.  To focus on the sweet beauty of what we a have right now and without any excuses live in the moment of it.   She did this by example.  Kelly loved to scuba dive and when a friend bought her a ticket to Mexico last September, she went between chemo session’s port in her chest and all.  She just wanted to be under the sea one last time and grabbed hold of the opportunity with both hands.  Her fearless adventures fueled my own.

Kelly grew weaker but still insisted on teaching me even after the lesions moved to her brain.  The lessons moved to her new apartment, went from one hour to nearly three and the majority of the time was spent talking and laughing.  In hindsight, I’m not even sure what we were laughing at.  I just know we were.

Kelly died last Friday at 4:00 in the morning.

This Sunday her name is penciled in my calendar for 2:00.  She had taken off to California for the holidays and this was the weekend we were meeting back up.  I’m at a loss.  I decided I would keep the appointment and try to practice without her to honor her.  I hope I don’t disappoint my teacher.

This entry was posted in Cancer, Grief, mastectomy, Memories. Bookmark the permalink.

167 Responses to Kelly

  1. Big Girl says:

    Beautifully said…you captured your friendship and journey ~ now carry on as she would have.

  2. Tracy says:

    This is a hard journey, too many are taken too soon. I’m sorry for your loss,honouring Kelly as you are is a mark of the true depth of your friendship

  3. Lyssapants says:

    I think you also just honored her by writing this post.
    So beautiful.

  4. Xraypics says:

    Lost my mum at 51- far too soon – never grew to see her grandchildren grow up. This is a beautiful blog, she would have read it with joy. Tony

  5. So sorry about your friend. Her fiance sounds like an absolutely abrhorrent person.

  6. I think she knew how much she meant to you. I’m sorry for your loss.

  7. What a blessing for both of you to have found each other, to have had the mutual love, laughter and support that you shared. Kelly sounds like a beautiful soul, as do you.

  8. You were a good friend and person. Your story was so tender. Thanks for sharing.

  9. primalnights says:

    Good luck. It always pulls my heart strings to hear some lose a friend or loved ont to death because it hurts so bad.

  10. scribblechic says:

    May we all know such friendship – one that nurtures our spirit in weakness and inspires us to live in strength.

  11. Kami Tilby says:

    So sorry for your loss. I’m on a similar journey with a friend who has multiple myeloma. Not sure how I’ll survive the day she isn’t her anymore. Prayers for you!

  12. revjoe01 says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

  13. Kelly sounds like she embraced life so beautifully. You are so lucky to have known someone like that, and so smart to have realized it. She is someone we’d probably all wish to be like. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  14. Holding death’s hand…what a great story. You’re a good friend and student.

  15. ginnyb3 says:

    Thank you for a beautiful post and for being a person who honors life and love.

  16. I doubt she would be disappointed, rather happy that you did not push aside what she was able to give you through your sessions 🙂

  17. jcmarckx2009 says:

    A very beautiful read. I am also a cancer survivor (pancreatic), and a Yoga enthusiast. I don’t know Kelly, but I would think that keeping that appointment would be the ultimate tribute to a friend. I am sorry for your loss.

  18. Kavita Joshi says:

    God will give you enough strength to cope my dear. We are with you and you are fortunate to experience such a nice feeling of true friendship.

  19. This brought tears to my eyes. I am so, so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to her.

  20. … crying…

    You have honoured your friend with this post.


  21. says:

    This is a beautiful tribute. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your friend.

  22. Hi, I have lost both close ones to cancer. That’s why I end up choosing to be a healer. If you accept that we are all spirit in a body then you know that she has just gone home.

  23. segmation says:

    You could never disappoint anyone! Thanks for your awesome blog.

  24. Jess says:

    You were lucky to find each other. You were a wonderful friend to her at a difficult time. My sympathies for your loss.

  25. joeyhunt2013 says:

    Think positive…ya I would say you will not disappoint anyone. I will say a little prayer for you and your friend Kelly. OOOO

  26. What a beautiful story. Kelly will be with you always. Sounds like the world lost a beautiful soul.

  27. My eyes are damp, and my heart sends you an extra beat. You have blessed me with your blog. Thank you

  28. Kylie says:

    A good reminder to ‘eat the strawberries’ every day, every moment if we can. Thank you for this.

    So sorry for your loss, but so happy that you were blessed with this friendship.

  29. Kaberi Chand says:

    So beautiful!!Thank you for such a wonderful post.
    May Kelly Rest in Peace.God Bless You!

  30. Jacobian says:

    my condolences to your friend then.

  31. Its a really so beautiful story. Nice to hear.

  32. Reblogged this on Bored American Tribune. and commented:
    — J.W.

  33. mummyshymz says:

    It’s a beautiful post. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  34. Kaan says:

    That was beautiful.

  35. foodiefy says:

    Wow, I have no words…
    Looks like God sent you His Angel, beautiful indeed. ❤

  36. Katie Renee says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, but what a blessing it was to have her in your life. I’m sure you don’t even know how much you meant to her because you were the one who stepped up to help her in her most difficult moments, when the people who should have been there for her walked away. I think keeping your lesson is a beautiful tribute to her. I wish you all the best in dealing with your grief, but please remember what a wonderful impact you had on each other. 🙂

  37. That was lovely. Cancer survivor here…and yogi. Namaste.

  38. cathartique says:

    Thank you for sharing this story of your wonderful friend. It’s so incredibly sad, but joyous in the way you have captured her great spirit in words. Take care

  39. writerinme81 says:

    I do not know if i should pray God for your good health or if i should pray God to bless me with the courage and soul as yours. so , I will do both 🙂

  40. I am sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing the joy that was your relationship with your friend – those memories and feelings will always be with you, as I believe they remain with your friend’s spirit.

  41. twl says:

    So sorry for your loss. You had a friendship, although for a short time, that most people never have. Hope your Sunday session went well. Take care.

  42. That is so beautiful.Tears for you, Kelly, and also my bestie who died a couple of months ago…but also a smile x

  43. Jenny says:

    What a beautiful woman. I’m so sorry that you, and the world, has lost her, but am also glad that you have such wonderful memories to sustain you.

  44. Oh the journey of a million miles begins with one step.

    Life begins, and then we fight a whole lifetime until death takes us.

    Some of use journey as we fight, some of us succumb to the coming death and never live.

    Enjoy life while you can. We will all sleep forever sometime soon.

  45. karenspath says:

    What a beautiful tribute to friendship. May God bless you with comfort and peace.

  46. This is a beautiful piece and a wonderful tribute to your friend. Thank you for sharing it with the world!

  47. Oneika says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You have surely made your teacher so very proud with this thoughtful post. Om shanti my friend.

  48. This is so beautifully expressed. Thank you.

  49. Becky says:

    I am sorry for your loss.. How you must be tired of hearing people say “I’m sorry”, because, well, it’s what people say when they don’t know what else to say. Online, it is our way of saying ‘we are here’.
    You will find your friend in many unexplained ways, in surprising places as you go about the process of learning to adjust to life without her. You will see or hear something, and she will be there, in your heart, in your mind, and you will know it is her saying “Hey” from where ever she is.

    I am new here, and I am sorry if I have overstepped some bounds. It truly was not my intention. I was moved by your writing, your sharing something so deeply personal to you.

  50. Thank you for offering us your story of love.

  51. paulalynn71 says:

    Reblogged this on thesixthpercent and commented:
    I’m so very sorry for your loss of not only a great friend but also someone who taught you a very important life lesson, she souns amazing and I’m sure she’s very proud of how you’ve memorialized her in print today. You’ve paid her message forward to me. I take my kids skiing every weekend, this weekend I think I might rent some equipment myself. Thank-you

  52. paulalynn71 says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss of not only a great friend but also someone who taught you a very important life lesson, she souns amazing and I’m sure she’s very proud of how you’ve memorialized her in print today. You’ve paid her message forward to me. I take my kids skiing every weekend, this weekend I think I might rent some equipment myself. Thank-you

  53. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my mother last August and watching her surrounded by her close friends on her death bed, it struck me that one day I will eventually lose my close friends too. This thought was a different and heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t comprehended it before.

    My thoughts are with you

  54. Reblogged this on The Grief Diaries and commented:
    A beautiful tribute to a close friend. Grief takes so many form and so does love.

  55. Very beautiful post. I don’t often read the whole blog, usually just skim read them, but this one was gripping from the first word to the last. Thank-you for sharing your grief, and hopefully you will have received some comfort from sharing your Kelly with all of these readers.

  56. this is just beautiful. bless you. i am so sorry for your loss.

  57. gaiasintent says:

    I want to leave a deep, honest, Thank you, for sharing this in such a beautifully authentic way.

  58. Thank you for sharing. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, but suffers from a number of other ailments as a result of her treatment. The one thing that has been her salvation, however, has been a group like what you described. It gave her the power to shed the stigma of victim and find her new strength.

    • maesprose says:

      You have no idea how much I enjoy this class. There are always haunting reminders of past surgeries and it’s wonderful to be around others who share my challenges.

  59. I am so sorry for your loss, but so happy for you that you were blessed with such a beautiful and lasting friendship. I love this tribute, and hope you will continue to honor her, your friendship, and yourself. Thank you for sharing.

  60. smileypic says:

    Glad that you shared and am sure this will be an encouragement to many as well, in special. Yes, keep the appointment, surely Kelly would have loved to see you in great spirit also. Nothing is easy, even when in ‘good times’. ……… May God’s creation cheers you whenever you have a chance to gaze into the awesomeness.

    A lovely childhood song I treasure, “….look at the lilies in the field, they toil not yet none is more beautiful than these, look at the birds in the air, they grow not, yet they are fed ……… ” As human, we may not understand the things of the nature but surely, we do not need to, to know/see that there is a God Creator who keeps all things in its place and time.

  61. Aurora HSP says:

    Beautiful story of love and friendship… love lives on… great way to honor your friend, I think. Write on, heartsoul, this was memorable before I even finished reading.

  62. pjcharles says:

    We know all too well the heartache that comes with breast cancer. What a lovely tribute to a friend and mentor. May you continue to find ways to honor her and to keep her life vibrant and a part of your journey. My heart goes out to you as you navigate your grief. Thank you for sharing.

  63. storiesbyfrances says:

    Mae, I´m so sorry. I could feel your grief in every word you wrote.
    And I have to follow those that have said it before me: You honored her by writing this beautiful post.

  64. sorry for your lost…..honored her by going to practice every day. don’t give up and don’t lose faith..

  65. There is nothing I can say that the other comments above haven’t already said beautifully, so I won’t even try. I just wanted to let you know this was one of the saddest and yet most inspiring posts I’ve ever read. You were truly blessed when you met your friend, but so was she and I’m sure she knew that too.

  66. muckibr says:

    I think you helped your friend find the joy in life before it was too late. Bless you.

  67. Wow. Thank you for sharing this story. It clearly brought tears to my eyes, however they didn’t fall in vain.
    Kelly was obviously a wonderful person who carved a very large niche in your heart. How wonderful to have a friendship like that. You’re blessed to have known her.
    Inspiration comes in many forms. Unfortunatly, it doesn’t always stick around. So glad you have fond memories of Kelly.

  68. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend Kelly.
    Thank you for sharing and honouring her with your words and actions.

  69. Life is indeed fragile and precious we must make the best of every single day given to us as a gift from GOD. Your story filled my eyes with water, outstanding job of honoring your friend.

  70. Chas Spain says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve lost two wonderful women in the last couple of months who were such an inspiration to me as I grew up. I suppose I could say that ‘cancer took them’ but in reality they both made the extraordinary choice to live and just got on with it – so Kelly sounds so much like them. Amazing.

  71. Wonderfully written and from the heart : )

  72. skteague1979 says:

    My father is battling terminal cancer, your story was absolutely beautiful. What an amazing gift to share her memory with so many in this way, thank you for that. I am so sorry for your grief and my condolences to you and her friends and family. ~Sarah

  73. reeseb0916 says:

    that was so touching!!! Not trying to promote myself but Im a new blogger and if anyone wants to read a funny blog, read reeseb0916 blog!
    This was a great story

  74. reeseb0916 says:

    My condolences

  75. a heart touching story of your friend, feels eyes with tears and questions

  76. Really beautiful, straight from the heart. Best wishes.

  77. Gabriela says:

    my mum survied…. thank you for this story Im so sorry for your loss . Gabriela

  78. hard as it seems, acceptance will always be the key to moving on. take care.

  79. magzmama says:

    Thank you for giving your friend a way to have dignity and independence during her final battle. I find that to be the truest definition of friendship and compassion. I’m sure she was with you on that date. And I’m sure she’ll be with you for a long time to come. Lovely post, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  80. Boomdeeadda says:

    Very moving. My names Kelly too and for some reason that’s why I chose this post to read first. I’ve been so oblivious to this kind of pain since I’ve not lost a girlfriend, but I have dread that this may lie ahead given the statistics of the horrible decease. Congratulations on ‘Freshly Pressed’, sorry it was about losing Kelly. Thank you for sharing.

  81. Pingback: Here, there and everywhere. | Mae's Day

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