February 16, 2009

Becky


There is one less person reading this blog today.

On Friday, my friend Becky passed away from complications related to leukemia. She was 29.

Becky and I lived in the same town, went to the same church, and had kids the same ages. She was pregnant with her third (a girl) at the same time that I was pregnant with Cameron. Our due dates were three weeks apart.

Becky found out that she had leukemia the same week in June (2008) that I found out that I had Fifth Disease and passed the virus on to Cameron. Though vastly different in typology, both diseases attack the bone marrow and blood.

Becky spent the summer as an inpatient at the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. I had to go to the same hospital twice a week for fetal ultrasounds to monitor the status of Cameron's condition. Usually I would stop by Becky's room before or after my appointments. We talked about a lot of things during these visits--RBCs, retics, platelets, transfusions--but mostly we just laughed our heads off about the cruel irony of our fates: she was a sick mom with a healthy baby, I was a healthy mom with a sick baby.

Behind and beneath every conversation was the possibility of loss, but our words never touched directly upon the ugly. Rather than worry about what we might lose, we tried to focus on what we hoped and prayed every day that we would get to keep.

Sadly, Becky lost her baby a short time later.

Becky made it through the tragic loss of her daughter, two rounds of chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant before acquiring an infection that would take her life. While my heart breaks for Becky's parents, her husband, and her two beautiful little boys, I can't help but see this outcome in some way as an answer to two heartfelt prayers. Although not answered in the way either of us expected, in the end both Becky and I got what we wanted: she is with her baby, and I am with mine.

42 comments

Anonymous said...

That is awful of you to say. She is with her baby now? What about her children that are left? What a horrible thing to say. Children have lost their mother and you call it an answer to your prayers? Seriously, think before you type.

jerseymom said...

I am so sorry for your loss and that of her family.

Ignore those who are anonymous--anger is an ugly emotion.

The Eadle Family said...

wow, i am so sorry for you loss. Cancer sucks. I will pray for her family.

D said...

I'm sorry for your loss. And I completely disagree with what anonymous said, those other two children are extremely hurt, I'm sure but they have their father too. And now that precious little baby has a mother. Your family and hers are in my prayers.

4handfulls said...

I am so sorry for you loss. It sounds like you were a wonderful friend to her. I will keep her family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe you actually made a way to make this about you.

Peggy said...

Hugs to you Jana! Becky was lucky to have had a friend like you in her life.

HW said...

There are no words to express my sorrow for your loss.

Unfortunately, when we hide behind anonymity, we seem to be able to find many words, even if they are full of venom.

My name is Heidi and I understood every word you typed.

Please know you are in my prayers, as are Becky's husband, children, and parents.

kimberly-327 said...

Real big of you to talk anonymously, both anons which I suspect is the same person. I hope you feel better about yourself cutting someone when they're already down.

I'm sorry for your loss, Jana.

Holly said...

This is incredibly sad and I am sorry for your loss as well as the loss felt by her family.

Malea said...

Understanding the eternal nature of family is a powerful tool. You are a wonderful and brave friend.

Anna P. said...

It is very apparent that "anonymous" has never dealt with a fatal disease, and if you can NOT find a positive in what Becky and her family must have gone through, then you need not say anything at all!

My prayers for comfort go out to Beckys family and prayers for thanksgiving to yours Jana!

The Wixom Zoo said...

What a rough day. I'm sorry for the sadness and loss, happy for Becky and her baby. I have to disagree with the anonymous reader - they must not really understand.

smooksberry said...

So sorry, Jana. I hope both you and your family, and Becky's family may find the comfort needed at this difficult time.

Helen said...

That is so sad! I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. Prayers for those left behind.

Tammy said...

I m so, so sorry for your loss.

togetherforgood said...

I am so very sorry.

Aunt MeMe/Mindy said...

Jana, As usual, you have used words in a way that few are able to articulate. You are a shining person and anyone that has or will ever know you personally is better off! My heart aches for the loss of your friend. What a way to be linked. I agree with you also that she is now with her daughter. It is a total tragedy that she left behind a husband and 2 sons but life will go on for them, eventually. My prayers and well wishes for you and the family going this heartbreak!

Pattie said...

So sorry for your loss. Understanding that those boys will be with their mom again too for eternity is a beautiful thing.. as is being a mom and understanding that you would want more than anything to be waiting with your precious baby for the day she is with her husband and kids again.

Liz said...

Terribly sorry. And I agree with Heidi... those who have negative things to say always choose not to own up to who they are. Complete cowards! If you believe what you say you shouldn't be afraid to stand behind it!

And agreeing with Aunt MeMe/Mindy.. again, your words are beautiful. Becky is honored to have had you as a friend this I am sure!

The PiƱon Family said...

I am sorry for your loss, and sorry that there are those who have no understanding of the eternal prospects we can achieve. Becky will have the opportunity to raise her daughter now, and be reunited with her sons and husband again in the eternities. Heavenly Father's plan is PERFECT!

wannabee free said...

it is a very sweet sentiment, but as a mother, I'd rather be with my kids still living than to die so i could be with one that has passed on. I believe the precious baby who died would not be alone in the here-after, but surrounded with loved ones and at peace, not aching for the missing mother.
With that being said, I know we don't usually get to make choices like that and should try to look at all things as a blessing in disguise, not knowing what The lord has in store for us.
My prayers are for all grieving at this time.

Jackie said...

I am sorry for your loss and applaud your strength in sharing it with us.

devon spec said...

that just made me tear up. it really makes you feel lucky for all you have when you hear tragedy like this. i'm going to give my daughter an extra squeeze tonight!

soapymomponders said...

I am so sorry for your loss. From a mother's perspective, it would be incredibly difficult to lose a child - either before birth (I lost two) or after birth (my sister had one stillborn). I understand what you were saying about her being with her daughter. Yes, I believe that her daughter was already at peace, surrounded by those who had passed before her. Although her sons and her husband will grieve for their missing family member, maybe for years to come, they may draw comfort from the knowledge that the two of them are now together. I'm sure it's not an arrangement that any of them would have wished for or anticipated, but it's something that happened and must now be accepted. Eventually gladness will replace the sadness. Smiles will replace tears and the sounds of laughter will replace the feelings of anguish.
My prayers go out to all who are impacted by this double tragedy.

Robin said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.

CurlyQuinn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers go out to you and Becky's family.

Shawna R Williamson said...

I am sorry for the loss of a person with a horrible disease. I could not imagine the pain she went through, the fear, or the fear for her family and friends like yourself. I would have to agree that anonymous is the same person, someone who you probably know. And how did you make this about yourself? Your speaking about a friend you lost, so how is that about you? *boggled look*. Ahwell who cares what they think/say!

Emily Heizer said...

I am so glad Becky is able to be with her baby girl in Heaven, and her husband is here to be with their other children. I am not LDS, but I know that families are forever, and they will all be together one day.

Grief and loss are horrible emotions to deal with and I hope you are able to deal with those feelings in a healthy way, and to not let it get you down.

You honor Becky, the life she lived and her family best by keeping your head up and continuing to look out for the best interest of others.

Pray to Heavenly Father, for Anonymous lacks the understanding and sympathy we all must have to be caring human beings in this world.

Love and hugs to all.

Tami said...

Thank you for opening up and sharing a very personal part of your life. Life is hard...but out of those hard things comes strength we didn't know we had. I am truly sorry for the loss of this obviously beautiful person.

Michal said...

oh, jana, i am so sad to read about becky. i am glad that you had each other through the experiences of the last many months, and glad that becky had you to laugh with--i'm sure she had plenty of time to anticipate the loss that was coming. i understand, also, that rejoicing that becky is now with her daughter does not mean that she would have chosen that over her other children--it is finding the blessing in the trial.

i lost my dad at a young age, too, and have seen the way that my family pulled together and learned to rely more on father in heaven. sometimes we need a tragedy like that to remember how completely we need him in our lives. as much as i miss my dad and would love to have learned those things another way, i, too, know that much of what is good in our lives now grew from the experiences we had as we pulled together and prayed for strength. the truth of eternal families makes such loss more bearable, but the pain is still very real.

i am sure that you are hurting today for your friend's family and for the void that will be in your own life now that she is gone, but rejoicing in the plan of salvation and the knowledge that becky is reunited with someone she loves dearly. my prayers are with you and her family.

and by the way, your response to anonymous was quite gracious. it really hurts when someone makes such cutting comments. the only times that i have received similar malicious words, they have always been from "anonymous". i hope that you won't let it bug you--you have many, many people who understand and love you.

Jana said...

Anonymous: When I first your comment/s, I have to admit that I was upset and angry. The more that I thought about what you said though, the more I realized that I was to blame for your negative response to this post. People have very different views on death, and I didn't do a very good job of explaining mine.

In more ways than you will ever know, Becky's story IS all about me.

Like Becky, my mother was pregnant with my youngest sister when she was diagnosed with cancer. My mom died a few months after my sister was born.

My mom's death was a horrible tragedy and all seven of us kids felt an immeasurable pain by her loss. While we were heartbroken by her death, we were also comforted by the knowledge that our separation was only temporary and that we would see and be with our mother again someday.

I am Mormon and members of my faith believe that there is life after this one. We find great happiness and joy in the knowledge that families are bound together forever. We don't repress our sadness over the loss of loved ones, but we do try our best to put it in perspective and to find ways, in the face of such sorrow, to be hopeful of things to come, and find peace and understanding in death, separation, and loss.

In my post about Becky, I was trying to find the silver lining in her death, and, indirectly, my mom's. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wonder why Cameron survived when the odds were that he wouldn't, and why Becky and her baby didn't make it, when statistically they should have.

This post was an attempt to make sense of something that doesn't make sense now, and may never. We can focus on what Becky--and all of us--leave behind when we die, or we can focus on what we get to have when we get to the other side. In Becky's case, it is her precious baby Bree.

gigi said...

Love and prayers for all.

Nancy B said...

What a gracious, honest and articulate response to "Anonymous". I have also been wrestling with these questions lately and often end up asking myself about life, "Why can't I understand? If only I could understand..." But then, I think, it's the mystery that keeps us all going and keeps us connected to our God. Inherent in all things mysterious, in all things not "understood", is the promise of hope and continuous renewal. Anonymous certainly must have missed/misunderstood this call to hope that inspired you to write about your friend. May the peace of the Lord be with all those who are grieving right now. I hope that, eventually, the memories of this beautiful woman become less painful and increasingly joyful for all who were lucky to love her.

The Clanton Gang said...

Jana, both your original post and your answer to anonymous's comments are beautiful. Sometimes is just best to find the silver lining in even the worst of things. Otherwise, it'd be that much harder to go on. And thank goodness families are forever!!

babs said...

saying something is better than nothing. especially in times of pain, we dont always have the perfect words, but words are better than none. I am glad you wrote something about your friend. It shows me something more about you. I am so sorry you lost a friend but I am glad you were her friend.

JenniferB said...

Death is a very personal loss and we each mourn and celebrate the life of those we lose, in different ways. Likewise, our expressions will differ, although our hearts may be trying to express very similar things. I think you expressed your love for your friend and her family eloquently, and your faith in the eternal nature of families as well. I hope our Savior's peace comes to each affected here soon.

Bec Thomas said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friends.

Janae' said...

I have tears on my keyboard. I love all you sweet women and all your compassion. Even cranky anomymous:)

I'm sorry about your friend. I love that you understand that she is okay. I'm happy you know your mom is okay.

Life is so precious. We all need to be gentle with one another. We are all doing or trying to do the best we can.

I, for one, am always looking for ways to find the bright side. Thank you for always brightening my day!

Janae'

Mia said...

How sad that such a young mother had to pass. She was beautiful and I'm sure her boys will always remember the love that shone in her eyes.

My nephew had leukemia at 15 months old. It is a terrible disease and he suffered much with the treatments. He graduates from high school this year and has been in remission since he was 5.

God has a plan for us all.

Jen said...

So sorry for your loss. Personally, I think this post was beautifully written.

Audra said...

I turn to your blog for a smile and instead I burst into tears! I am so sad for your friend. Your last line was the kicker for me. I am glad you both are with your babies. I think your blog is the best! People who can't sign their names to their words shouldn't say them.