This post is going to be quite different to usual. I am not even sure I will make it public. But I have had some shocking news and it has really shaken me up, so I felt maybe writing it down will help me make sense of it.
I read the news in an unusual way. I found out about my friends unexpected death on Facebook. Sounds kind of horrible and heartless I suppose. But in reality it was perhaps to be expected. I went to primary school with her. For years I didn't have any contact but then we reconnected through Facebook. I guess reconnect is a loose term, we did meet up in person once but through distance and different lives we didn't really catch up much in real life. But I saw her journeys on Facebook, saw her first child born, and grow. I knew she really wanted to have a second baby and was so pleased when her second son was born. We messaged occasionally, or commented on statuses. I couldn't really count myself a friend. I don't know her address (although I've seen photos of her house renovations), I have never met her husband or kids.
In February she posted that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had had surgery, they thought it looked good, something about no margins which I took to mean the surgeons thought they had got it all. But as a precaution she would have chemo and radiotherapy.
I messaged her then too. My mum went through chemo, and another friend has been recently diagnosed. I made some professional (pharmacist) suggestions about how to deal with chemo side effects. I wished her luck. We messaged just a few times.
I saw her photo on the day of her first treatment. She was going to sew a quilt during the treatments, friends had sent her different fabrics.
And then I saw her husband post that only about two weeks after her first treatment, she had passed away. From complications due to her immune system after chemo. Maybe that is why I'm so upset. You shouldn't die from chemo. Cancer, well, I understand that. But not the treatment. Not when you have two small children. Not when you've only had one treatment. Not when you are 38. Not when just a few days before that she had been posting as usual, everything seemed normal.
My heart breaks for her, and her family. But I don't really know them. I feel like I do, because of social media I suppose. So then I feel like I don't have the right to be so upset. What is my grief when compared to theirs?
I have had one idea though for a small memorial. Just a little one, for me. I have just looked up roses called Anna. And I think I will try to grow one of the Anna's Promise roses. And then, I can remember her anytime I like.
Photograph from Week's roses website.