May 4, I woke up and did the normal things - went to the bathroom, washed my hands and face, brushed my teeth, drank some water, kissed my husband and kids good morning and wandered into the living room to see what was new on Facebook and in my email.
I had gotten a message from my friend Brian at 4:41 am that stated simply, "Dawyn has left us."
Oooooohhhhhhhhh. ::big, slow exhale::
I knew it was coming. Dawyn had been diagnosed with IBC (Inflammatory breast cancer), had beaten it into remission, but it came back pissed off and super aggressive. She had slowly been fading away from her Facebook and blog updates (Living with IBC ). She had seemingly offhandedly mentioned on Facebook that her diagnosis was terminal months and months ago.
If you knew her, you were devastated. It's hard to describe Dawyn in a phrase or a paragraph. She had a love of life and people that was bigger than racial issues, economic status, cultural differences, religious intolerance...any of the petty things that often bog us down in day to day life. She is, I mean was, probably the most naturally happy person I've ever met.
Her Facebook page is filled - FILLED - with people saying good bye to her. She has left an emotionally bereft crater at least twice the size of the Grand Canyon in the hearts of those that know and love her.
About a week later, I met up with three friends of mine from high school when we went to her memorial service. I met her wife, Michele, and I could feel her grief from across the room. Or it could have been our grief radiating out too. So many people love her. So many people admire her. So many people had stories to tell of meeting Dawyn or of an adventure (or seven) they had with her. It was hard to be sad among so many happy memories. We were prompted to relate a memory of Dawyn when we signed the guest book. And all of us looked at each other and wondered how? How to choose one thing? I'm sure we all wrote something down, I couldn't tell you what I wrote because there were so many things I wanted to say but I couldn't find the words.
The memorial service was beautiful - an opera singer sang Amazing Grace and I had to concentrate really hard on my shoes not to bawl like a baby. In the middle of the service, a thunderstorm erupted right on cue and while the wind whipped around and the rain poured, there was enough room in the gazebo for all of us and no one got soaked. The people that spoke at the service told stories of the Dawyn they knew who really just seemed like an wiser, kinder, more experienced version of the girl we all knew.
After it was over and we were talking to Michele, she told us she wanted to get to know the Dawyn we knew. I didn't trust myself to say too much at the time. Truth be told, I wasn't super close with Dawyn like Lori, Brian, or Donovan. But Dawyn was one of those people that you always saw around, that always spoke to you, would laugh at your stupid jokes, would give you a hug if she thought you needed it. In high school, I think it's common to think you know someone yet not know them at all. From what people were saying about her that day, nothing much had changed. She faced her fate with dignity and grace. She seemed so grateful for the blessings in her life and damn if she didn't consider just about everything a blessing. It was not possible to know her even an little and not love her. It just wasn't.
I'm so sad my friend has gone. I'm sad that she won't be able to give her and Michele's coat and boots to any more homeless people she meets on the street. I'm sad that the world didn't have more time with her. Dawyn, you were one in a million and so many will miss you but so few will forget.