There are truly exceptional people who walk this earth. They manage to positively change the lives of the people they meet simply by existing. Maybe it’s their infectious personality, their capacity to love without judgment, or their ability to be completely real with their emotions that people are drawn to. Whatever it is, I know that I was blessed with meeting one of these human beings, and my life will never be the same.
Just six short months ago I was writing a post much different than this, but about the same person. I wrote about her magical prom night complete with glamour, whimsy, and fun. In that moment, it seemed like she was invincible. It seemed like the illness that had taken hold of her body was drowned out by the whirlwind of happiness and love that was sparked from a community coming together to make a dream come true.
Now, as I write this, I am painfully aware of the fact that the illness was ever present, and although I did not believe it was possible, it took our sweet and amazing Daena from us. She was only 17. When I received the phone call saying she was gone my life was changed forever. I could not possibly go back to the person I had been just minutes before because the hole that had opened in my heart was not one that could be filled.
I walked around like a zombie for a good part of the next few weeks. It felt like the world should stop spinning, but it didn’t. It made no sense to me how people were still functioning when I literally felt like someone had punched me in the stomach every second of every day. I found comfort in spending time with Daena’s family. They understood the pain I was feeling, and I did my best to be a friend to them while they were dealing with the unimaginable.
It has been about a month and a half since Daena has been gone. I still miss her like it was yesterday, and some days the pain is still unbearable, but I am managing to find bright moments in my life, and have started to focus on cherishing the memories I have. I will forever be grateful for the fact that I was able to spend a few very special hours with Daena and her family the night before she passed away. We played Old Maid, listened to the CDs she had recorded, had chicken wings (which were her choice), watched part of a movie, and even crafted. She was determined to squeeze every little drop of goodness out of her short life before it ended.
On the night she passed her mom allowed me to see her. She was peaceful, beautiful, and perfect. I could never resist her cheeks so I kissed them one more time before I said goodbye. The love I had for her was big so the pain that comes with her loss is just as big. Even when you know that someone’s illness will eventually take them from this world it doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens.
Daena’s exceptional family has decided that the kindness Daena showed others while she was alive should not end simply because she is no longer with us. They have set up the website www.BeDaena.org. The point of the site is to encourage random acts of kindness. They have made cards available for people to print to hand out when doing an act of kindness. The hope is that the recipient of the act will go onto the website and share their story with others so we can watch how many lives continue to be touched in Daena’s name. Please consider printing some cards and spreading Daena’s love this holiday season.
Rest easy, sweet girl. I will always love you, and will carry your memory with me until we meet again.