Today one of my best friends, Rachel, passed away suddenly during a routine medical procedure.
We still don’t know all the details yet of what exactly happened — an autopsy will give those clinical details and truthfully, they don’t matter … they can’t bring her back.
But I can tell you, my heart is broken in a million pieces. Shattered.
It was so sudden. Unexpected.
As we do most nights, we texted last night while putting our sons to bed. I sent her a funny video of Ben showing us his “bumma” (bummy) which she and her son watched three times, cracking up. We discussed her upcoming procedure today and how she knew she wanted to be knocked out and not know what’s happening. We texted this morning before her scope, blowing Emoji kisses and sending hugs.
And now she’s gone.
It’s just unbelievable. She leaves behind a loving husband, the 2 1/2 year old beautiful baby boy they were in the process of adopting, her incredible parents, a brother and sister-in-law whom she adored, four wonderful step-children, and countless friends, and family, and colleagues.
Rach and I met at Zumba in July 2012, and she quickly became my daily workout buddy, lulu-loving friend, confidante … and so much more. She became one of my best friends … proof that it isn’t necessarily how long you know someone that makes a good friend, but rather how much of an impact they make. And Rach made a lasting impact on everyone she met.
She is the most selfless person I know — and I use the present tense intentionally because, truly, I don’t know if I’ll ever meet someone who has as big a heart as her … or who has endured so much in her 35 years.
Like my cousin Michelle who passed away last January at 31, Rach had Crohn’s disease … but Crohn’s disease didn’t have her. I’ve never met two stronger women in my life: Michelle or Rach.
And while Michelle was often ill — in and out of hospitals — you’d never know Rach was battling a chronic illness. She worked full-time, worked out, had an active social life. She never complained, never whined. She had every reason to … but instead, she was optimistic in the most amazing ways — choosing instead to put her energy towards all the positive things in her life … like her family, friends, etc.
Crazy to think we walked the Crohn’s & Colitis Walk last June in Michelle’s memory together, with our families … and now this year I will need to walk in both their memories.
Rach couldn’t have children of her own, but it was her dream to become a mom. She was in the process of adopting the love of her life … he lit her up, made her whole, and completed her. He made her a mom … and the title has never suited anyone better. Seeing them together … there is just nothing better. Pure, unadulterated joy. LOVE. Unconditional love.
My heart aches for her little boy. For her family. For everyone who loves her …
This past Saturday was the last time I saw her in person; we had a girls afternoon at our friend’s house and it was the first time our Zumba girls had been together in a long time. I almost didn’t go, as I’d been sick … but in retrospect, I am so glad I went. It was a rare occasion in that we didn’t snap a silly “glam” pic … but I’ll never forget the joy and ease of just standing around – some of us moms, some of us not — and chatting with our friends for an afternoon … noshing, gossiping, chatting, hugging.
How happy she was. How everything was coming together for her: upcoming basement reno, visit from her brother in June, her son starting swimming lessons, the adoption underway … it was all coming together for her and we were all over the moon for her.
And then today … everything changed. In an instant.
And I’m rendered speechless.
This picture was taken two weeks ago today at our last lunch together (we often met for lunch during the work week when we had the time). That day we were joking about snapping a photo and how cheesy it is — since it’d be during the work day — but a teacher friend who couldn’t join us and was jealous asked us to — so we did. I’m so glad we listened.
As you can imagine … I’m pretty speechless right now … but I couldn’t let the calendar turn to tomorrow without memorializing my dear, sweet, friend Rachel today. Heaven truly gained an angel today … and your loss couldn’t be more profound.
Thank you for your friendship, your love, your wisdom, and your positive attitude. I will carry it with me always. Love you.
Rest in peace, Rachel Alexis … May 15, 1979 – April 1, 2015