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One Year Ago Today... 
27th-Aug-2007 10:07 am
One year ago today, Elissa Hadley lost her fight to cervical cancer and the world of everyone that ever spent time in her presence got smaller and colder. Later today I'll repost all of her music so that everyone who has not heard it finally has a chance and can share it with others. Also, I would like everyone to read this post and link to it, please - for my sweet little E.

Elissa Hadley, 1 April 1970-27 August 2006

I am better
I am braver
I am bird wings and birthday cake
Flying starlight clean again
I am flying starlight clean
I am
I am twinkly
Like a tree
At Christmas time
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you...

This is Elissa's song that was played at the close of her memorial service. She sang it for the Breathlanes album "For Now". Click the green 'play' button to start the music.
Download it: [.mp3 zip file]
27th-Aug-2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
You are truly wonderful. I get beset with sadness when I hear the fear and sadness in my friend's voice. It's hard for me to coach from the sidelines: "Be tough! Don't worry about your hair!" when I know I don't know shit, but she needs me, and needs to hear positive things. We surround her with love and faith that she will beat this, and lend support daily. I keep telling her, "You don't have cancer, Karri. You have a cancerous lump in your breast, that is all. You can beat this tumor. You can get rid of it and be well."

Life is precious. The best we can do is simply live it to our fullest potential.

Thank you for taking the time.
27th-Aug-2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
We can easily get caught up in things like beauty and such, but really - we're not our hair, we're not breasts or pecs or anything like that. If in fact she DOES 'have cancer', she is not her disease. You know what I mean?

If she loses her hair, shave your own head and buy a fun little wig right along with her. It grows back, and is an amazing show of solidarity in the face of fear and powerlessness. You might even like it - she might as well.

I can't help but think of my friend Carolyn who had a radical mastectomy and felt worthless and ugly and half a woman, she felt robbed of her femaleness and only wanted for just one day to again laugh in spite of it all. So I made her a card that said "Hey - NICE TIT!" To this day, she says it is the best thing anyone ever gave her and it keeps her determined and motivated to accept only the things she has control of and dismiss the rest. I told her early on that there were a few things I understood - I understood that we were both scared and unsure. I understood that I had no idea what she needed from me, but I was going to figure it out along the way. I understood that there were going to HAVE to be times where we would unplug from it all and at least for a while pretend like it wasn't happening (I even got us t-shirts to wear for those days that said "I reject your reality and substitute my own") and most of all, I understood that I was not going to lie to her. I made sure she understood that she was going to die, and so was I, and so is everyone we know - and who knows really how or when it happens. The difference is that her own clock started ticking a bit louder than the rest of us, but it wasn't a death march - it was a "GETON WITH IT" alarm.

Never once did I tell her "I know how you feel", because I didn't - it was only happening to me vicariously through her, even though it was terrifying me and I felt like it was 'our' battle. She's been in complete remission for over 7 years now and is a better, more authentic 'her' than ever before. She told me a while back that she's convinced that a part of her recovery is in knowing that no matter what, I was always realistic with her about everything and didn't waste our time during that period waiting for her to die, but instead reminding her what living was about. She made her peace with everything and accepted that hope and a positive attitude was all she had going for herself when the medicines and surgeries and chemo had done their parts. Best of all, she reminded me that in a similar situation, we should all be so lucky.

Love your friend to the tips of your fingers, N - and do what you have to do to put your fears aside and make everything as normal as it can be as often as possible. Almost more than wanting to be cancer free, Karri wants to remember what it felt like before all of this - and you're a conduit to that safe place. It's just an act of will, and it might be the best thing you could ever do for both of you.

Never a perfect time, never a right time, ALWAYS a better time. Write that down, memorize it, and teach it to your friend - make her chant it and do the same. There's a lot of power in those words.

Above all else, I'm not wonderful - I just love you, that's all. I'll always take the time.
27th-Aug-2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
I love you right back.

THANK YOU for your advice.
27th-Aug-2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
It is also noteworthy that when I told her to get real about death, she agreed that with my own family history of cancer I'd get it too one of these days - but that both of us would end up dying not from cancer, but from mouthing off at the wrong asshole!

She's likely right, you know. Cancer won't kill me, but my stupid loud mouth VERY likely will. ;-)
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