Sunday, May 17, 2015

Missing Lauren Ryan

It's been almost a year since Lauren died. And I still can't believe she's gone. My partner in this mess, my friend. Things that I'll never forget:

"This sh$t is gone and it ain't never coming back!". She and I both fervently believed her declaration while walking on the freedom trail in Boston in the spring of 2011. 

The day we received our seal from the IRS.

The day we opened our first bank account together. Everyone assumed we were a couple, we never bothered to mention that we were both happily married to men. What did we care.

The day we hunted down and found Alyssa A. at Soan-Kettering. We were with Precious and Ted and were on a mission to find that ray of light. We walked in and sat on her bed hours after she had had massive surgery to try and rebuild her spine. Lauren and I couldn't believe Alyssa was real, she was too good to be real.

The first time we met face to face in NYC. I already knew her. Every part of her. The only thing that was missing was the actual feeling of how strong she could hug, which was the very first thing I learned that day.

The moment we both realized she recurred. She texted me a picture with what was not a rash, or an abrasion, but what we both knew was cutaneous angiosarcoma. We (our small support group at that time) convinced her to fire her doctor who kept arguing that the former scenario's were the cause. She ended up going to Schwartz, who knew immediately, and confirmed within days that it was not her sports bra, but rather this insidious disease that was causing those marks around the site of her mastectomy. 

The day she stepped down as president of Angiosarcoma Awareness.  My heart still aches thinking of her making that decision. She didn't want to let go, but she didn't want to let any one down by not performing up to the standards she had set for herself. FUAS big time for all of it, but that one, truly, that one right there was beyond painful for her.

The day she realized that she changed the world. Lauren struggled for many years to see just how much of an impact she really made in the lives of others. And to some extent, she never accepted how transformative she was. Until the last week of her life. I would sit with her at the hospital reading the flood of texts, and facebook threads and emails that people sent detailing the moments that she helped them. I read to her for hours and never repeated the same message twice. She was completely lucid in those moments, and her eyes. Man, were they open. She smiled so deeply with those eyes that she made me see the bitter sweet beauty of living in a moment of time where pain and gratitude were inextricably interwoven. 

Her funeral. I walked into the parlor while Ted and the girls waited in the car. We were there early and I wasn't sure where we should go. I saw her name above a closed door and walked in to find her wearing her angiosarcoma shirt and bracelets. I knelt beside her and just lost it. Completely. Her lips were sealed shut. Eileen and Lisa walked in and hugged me right out of my grief. The room started to fill to capacity with people from all over the world who had come to pay their respects. At one point, her children and my children knelt beside her and just took it in together. When we left, Maddy told me that it was the "funnest" funeral she had ever been to. Lauren would have loved that. 

Not a day goes by.