Thursday we were warned that she may only have a week or two if they couldn't get her infection under control. I couldn't believe it. She had seemed like she was fighting the cancer well. Her form of cancer was so "highly treatable." Just last month she and a student who is also fighting cancer organized a fund raiser where around 30 folks shaved their heads to raise money for cancer research and donate hair to Lock of Love. She was so helpful and involved on campus and in the larger community, even all the way through her illness as much as she was able. It was such a shock to learn this morning that she is gone. It is such a loss to so many people--her husband (they were just married this summer and he also works on campus), to the students, to her co-workers, to her extended family, to the spiritual community which she lead and participated in, the social justice movements she was active in, to our community, our whole world. It is such a loss of goodness. She was bringing so much positive into this world. I just cannot believe that her time for good works is already over. I do trust her spirit of good works will continue after her though because of all the souls she touched, like mine. None the less the day feels a little emptier. Kristi is gone? I never really got to say goodbye. I just can't believe it.
We'll be planting a tree at Earth Day which will now be dedicated in her honor. I first got to know Kristi through our mutual involvement in the campus Green Group so this seems a quite fitting memorial. She would like it too, I think.
I just can't believe I will never hear her suggestions at another Green Group meeting. Or that we'll never get to do our Wednesday afternoon knitting circle (which Kristi started) with her again (I wonder if the circle will disband altogether, and vow that it shouldn't, but Kristi was the glue.). Or that she won't be sitting at the entrance of the student union building handing out free cookies on Mondays.
I try to remind myself that there is a time for all things--joy and sorrow, planting and reaping, laughing and crying, being born and dying--and though it is heart-breaking this was her time to leave us. That while we're sad we should also be glad to have known her. I am also glad her pain has ended and that her family was with her at the end. I keep praying her husband, who has been so strong throughout all of the cancer treatment, finds the strength he needs to get through this now, too.
I will close with a poem that brings me great comfort in these sort of times. I'll keep it in mind when I feel myself start to get a little overcome with the sadness and the I-don't-understand-whyness of it all.
- Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
- I am not there; I do not sleep.
- I am a thousand winds that blow,
- I am the diamond glints on snow,
- I am the sun on ripened grain,
- I am the gentle autumn rain.
- When you awaken in the morning’s hush
- I am the swift uplifting rush
- Of quiet birds in circling flight.
- I am the soft star-shine at night.
- Do not stand at my grave and cry,
- I am not there; I did not die.
Live you life to the fullest, friends. For who knows what tomorrow might bring.