This past week I lost a good friend to cancer. Her diagnosis came after a bout with bronchitis that wasn't responding to antibiotics. In her mid-50's, she had struggled with health issues the last several years but always seemed to have the strength to battle through. This latest health crisis came on fast and furious and sadly it was too much for her to survive it.
Before her illness took a drastic turn I was able to talk to her about what she was facing. After losing my dad and feeling like there were things I wished I'd asked him, I decided I wasn't holding back anymore. I asked my friend how she felt about death and what she might be fearing.
I trusted in the relationship we had and she opened up and shared her fears with me. Looking back I feel content that I said what I needed to say to her and hopefully I helped her trust her beliefs and let go of the fear.
I will miss this friend because she was so raw, so unique and in this world where people often hide who they really are, with Monika you always knew just how she felt about something. Sometimes she was so strongly opinionated that she would turn people off but to me, I admired her for not being afraid to tell it like she saw it. She wasn't one to follow the crowd. I didn't always agree with her but that's okay. I don't need to agree with everything someone says to be friends with them. Our differences are what keeps life interested and with Monika, life was always interesting.
She might have been loud about her beliefs but she also had a heart that was filled with compassion for others. She was a very complex person who struggled with fibromyalgia and bi-polar disorder and wasn't shy about sharing those struggles. Because of her chronic illnesses she lived with huge financial struggles and was never ashamed of it.
Her compassion showed in her love for her chocolate lab Eddie and her flock of birds. I jokingly referred to her as the "bird lady" as she acquired quite a few birds that she lovingly raised and shared stories about. Right before we lost contact with her she posted about re-homing them and I was saddened as I realized that the only reason she would be doing this is because she knew she wouldn't be here to care for them.
Had Monika and I lived closer I am sure we would have hung out together. I always felt she would have been that friend that would pop by in the morning for a cup of coffee or borrow a book from.
Sadly we were only cyber friends who kept in touch by private chats never to have a real face-to-face interaction. It doesn't matter that we never knew each other in the real world. We still touched each others' lives.
Monika was a writer and our mutual connection was through a now-defunct online writing site. We supported each others' writing throughout the years and our friendship developed. The online writing community is a strong one and I have found several very close relationships through my writing. The support of fellow writers is a gift that I am so grateful for and these friendships are as real as my real-world ones. Because of her health challenges Monika was unable to work outside the home and writing helped her supplement her income as well as give her a creative outlet.
She had struggled for so long with many challenges. She did have joy in the midst of those struggles and those joys were her daughters, her grandchildren and her beloved birds and Eddie and of course, her many FB friends that showed her how loved she was for who she was.
She will be missed.