I got some pretty bad news yesterday. My friend Keri passed away after an almost 2 year battle with advanced cancer.
I had known that this was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier. I’m heartbroken.
I met Keri in 2005 at my cousin Stephie’s wedding. Keri and my cousin Adam had been dating for years by then and the wedding was the first time that she and I got to meet in person. Before I got to meet her, but after she started dating my cousin, Keri had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It wasn’t cancerous and they removed it, but it did cause some health issues. But she beat that tumor and when I met her, she was the most vibrant and friendly person ever.
A few months after the wedding, Keri and Adam had invited me to Portland to come and visit them. That trip was so much fun! I really got to know Keri and realized then that she was just a super generous friend and so many people in Portland loved her.
We got to go out on my cousin Adam’s sailboat during that trip and even though there was no wind so we couldn’t really sail, we had an awesome time.
That trip is so memorable for all the fun that we had, but also because while I was walking in the Portland airport to take my flight home, I collapsed in pain. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the start to all my hip issues. While I was dealing with all my hip issues and misdiagnoses from my doctors, Keri was someone who I could call and vent to. She always was happy to listen to me and give advice when it was asked for.
The next time I got to see Keri was in 2007 at my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party. I was at my skinniest then, and as soon as Keri saw me, she said that I was beautiful at my heaviest and beautiful as I was then too. She said that she would love me no matter what my weight was and all she wanted was me to be happy. At the time, she was the only person who I felt felt that for me and it meant so much that she said it out loud for me to hear.
I only got to see Keri in person a few other times after that. But we always stayed in touch. We called when we could and Keri also wrote me the most beautiful handwritten notes that she mailed to me. Sadly, I lost a bunch of those notes when I moved into my current house (they were in a box with all my non-digital pictures and somehow that box never made the move), but I still have one.
Keri and I were also birthday buddies. My cousin Adam and I have birthdays close together (his is August 7th and mine is August 9th) and Keri’s was right in the middle on the 8th. Every year I would call Keri on her birthday and she would call me on mine. It was pretty funny to have calls 2 days in a row, but it was special. And at the end of every phone call, birthday or not, Keri always ended the call with saying that she loved me.
Sadly, about 2 years ago Keri had gotten in a car accident and had some abdominal pain. It was discovered that she had very advanced cancer and that it had already spread. Traditional treatment options like chemo or surgery were not options for her. So she used holistic treatments as well as positive thinking and she did amazing! The doctors had only given her a few months, and she almost made it 2 years.
My Aunt Cindy (my cousin Adam’s mom) called me last week to let me know that Keri wasn’t doing too well. She let me know that the end was probably near and she wanted me to know. For the last week, I panicked every time my phone had an alert because I was terrified that it was bad news. I checked Facebook all the time for news.
And today, after I had gotten home from a dentist appointment, an email from Aunt Cindy came saying that Keri had passed away in the morning.
The news hit me so hard and it felt like I was punched in the stomach. It just wasn’t fair. Even though I knew it would eventually end like this, it just sucks. Keri was so wonderful and had overcome a tumor already. Why did she have to get cancer too? And if she had to get cancer, why couldn’t it have been treatable?
She was doing so much good in the world and there was so much more good she could have done. Keri was a teacher and I’m hoping that her students carry on her legacy by being as kind and gracious as she was. I know that that’s why I’m going to try to do.
I wish I had more to write about Keri. I wish I had more pictures of us together. I wish her story in my life wasn’t ending like this.