I just learned that one of my beloved transplant buddies died a few days ago.
She was an amazing woman--she was an inspiration to me in many ways. I met her before my first transplant and was in awe. At that time she was ten years post-transplant and studying to be a doctor. Her example was one that I clung to. Debbie proved that life after transplant could be full and worthwhile.
Over the years, Debbie and I would run into each other here and there. After awhile we became friends. We had lunches together and talked on the phone. We were a good compliment to each other--she had strengths where I had weaknesses and vice-versa.
Debbie became a shrink and had a very successful private practice. Man, do I envy her achievements.
I'm sad to say that I hadn't spoken to Debbie in a few months. Last we spoke, she was so excited because she just bought an amazing house. She had been battling cancer but it seemed under control. We lost touch but it didn't bother me much--I knew we would reconnect soon and it would be like we hadn't missed a beat.
I had no idea that Debbie's cancer had gotten worse. I had no idea that she wasn't returning my emails because she was very ill. I wish I had pursued it more. I wish I had been able to say goodbye.
It's strange how, even though death is so close to me and those like me, when it happens it still seems like a surprise. I guess when you have been so close to the end and come back over and over, you begin to think you will always rally. The idea of Debbie dying never seemed possible to me...it still feels untrue.
Debbie lived 16 years with her donor lungs--quite an amazing feat! She was an inspiration to me when I needed someone to show me how life post-transplant could be dynamic and valuable. She was a friend with much wisdom and kindness and an openness to take what was offered to her. I will miss her. I will never stop being inspired by her. Thank you, Debbie.