I’d like to tell you about somebody special.
Her name is Lisa.
I met her in, must have been junior high, maybe before. We lost touch for many years, until Facebook reunited us. We’d never been very close, and we didn’t become best buddies, but she spent some time in the Philly area and we managed to catch up a little. In spite of being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, a condition that would inevitably progress and become fatal, I was always struck by how much she embraced life. When her illness required round-the-clock drug infusions, she learned to prepare the temperature-sensitive medication herself and would simply bring it along with her, ice packs and all, in enormous, fashionable purses. During her hospitalizations, she always had the wildest pajama pants, and the most optimistic hope I’ve ever seen.
Three years ago, I visited her as she was on life support, waiting for the double lung transplant her body would need to survive. I remember walking in as she was figuring out how to dry her freshly-washed hair with the vent coming out of one of the machines surrounding her. After all, being stuck in an ICU waiting for life-saving surgery was no barrier; she wanted clean hair and clean hair she would have. In fact, that’s one of the things we bonded over: after an accident I had many years ago, after weeks of not being permitted to fully wash hair and face due to my injuries, my dearest wish was a salon visit for a facial and a haircut.
Lisa’s body died yesterday evening. She had became ill earlier this year – not with COVID – and all treatment options had been exhausted.
I’m fortunate to have learned many things from Lisa, and I’d like to share a few with you as we go into the weekend, so that her legacy lives on.
Your diagnosis is not your identity.
Advocate for yourself, and for those like you.
Let people take care of you.
Be an organ donor.
Take the time to reconnect.
Fighting is strength is winning.
Live fully and fabulously.
Appreciate and enjoy every breath.