I met my neighbor and now good friend, Ashli, about 19 years ago when we moved into the neighborhood.
This is us at Fleetwood Mac recently. How cute is she? Just as sweet as she is cute!
Over the years, Ashli has graciously introduced me to her girlfriends that she has been close with for years. Ashli has many friends, but there are four of them that stick together like glue and spend a lot of time together. They are all amazing and strong and smart women. I love spending time with all four of them.
One of Ashli’s friends that I have had the pleasure in getting to know over the last several years is Liz. Liz is in the bottom right of the above picture.
Smile with a heart of gold. Dog lover (partial to golden retrievers). Lover of all things black and white with a splash of red. Always doing for others. Loves to entertain. Loves a good theme party. Did I mention smile?
Liz was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer about 18 months ago.
Shortly after that, (weeks) another friend of Ashli’s (one of the four) that I have had the pleasure of getting to know, was diagnosed with colon cancer.
One Friday night when we were gathered at Ashli’s house for some good girl chat and a happy hour, Ashli’s two friends, both being diagnosed with cancer, received an appointment reminder on their phone for their chemo treatments the following week. They actually gave each other a fist bump and giggled!
I then told them that I didn’t really want to join the little club that they had going, but I had a biopsy scheduled for the following week.
When I got my results, the first two people I told were Ashli’s friends, but not Ashli. One of the hardest people to tell was actually Ashli.
I can’t imagine being the one friend that has three friends all diagnosed with cancer in such a short amount of time.
We jokingly blamed Ashli.
I never had to experience chemo the way that those two ladies did. They both were so incredibly strong.
Liz invited a bunch of people over and had a party for her head shaving. Yep. Her hairdresser came to her house and we all went outside on her deck. There Liz sat with her beautiful smile while her friend shaved her head. We then watched her put on her wig. It was a very emotional day but Liz smiled the entire time and had a house full of family and friends and love.
That’s Liz in the pink!
That’s the way she did everything. With a house full of family and friends and love. (dogs too!)
On this day, we gathered at Ashli’s house and made blankets for Cancer Action, a local organization supporting cancer patients in our community.
Here we are again, participation in a 5K last Fall for Lung Cancer Research. That’s Dooley, Liz’s bff.
Here’s the girls last New Years Eve.
Liz was told last December that she may only have a year to live. She made out a bucket list and followed through. She wanted a convertible, so she bought one. She had several trips she wanted to go on. She went on those trips.
Liz came to my “one year cancer free” party on August 31. I was celebrating one year cancer free while she was battling cancer with all of her might. Not only did she come to my party, but she had cookies made for me that looked like boobs! They were the cutest!
I knew she wasn’t feeling well that night but I was so happy that she came. Her and I did have a discussion about how strange it was for me to ask her to be there when I was celebrating and she was fighting. She assured me that we simply have different stories. That was Liz.
She skipped on the food and the drink and offered to take pictures with the camera that Weight Watchers had sent me. I knew she wasn’t feeling well but I also know that it was important for her to be there. She took great photos and I so appreciated her taking care of that for me.
Five days after that party, Liz was told she had 90 days to live. I met Ashli and her girlfriends over at Liz’s house. We all sat on the couch huddled around her and listened to her talk about what she wanted to do with the last 90 days of her life. What an incredible group of women these ladies are. I feel so honored to know all of them.
Throughout the month of October it became more and more difficult for Liz to get out of bed and move around the house.
One Sunday afternoon, Ashli thought it would be fun to shower Liz with golden retriever puppies. Liz loved dogs, but she was extremely fond of golden retrievers. I think she owned four over the years. One of Ashli’s other good friends, one of these amazing women that I’m talking about, was able to locate eight adult golden retrievers to come to Liz’s house for a visit. It was the sweetest afternoon. Liz remained in her bed while each dog was introduced to her and pounced on her bed. They didn’t all come in at once, but there were four in there at one time! It was just the sweetest afternoon. You could feel the love in the room from the dogs and the people and the smile on Liz’s face made the day perfect.
Less than two weeks ago, I called Liz and told her I was coming over and asked her if there was anything she would like. She mentioned two things from Trader Joe’s and I was so happy that I found exactly what she wanted. I spent the afternoon at her house laying in her bed with her and chatting. I’m so glad I had that alone time with Liz. I will cherish that afternoon forever.
Last Sunday, while Tess and Manuel were still here, Ashli called and said that hospice was bringing in a hospital bed that day. She let me know that she would be at Liz’s house that evening if I wanted to come over. I dropped off Tess and Manuel at the airport and headed to Liz’s house.
There were about 10 other people there when I got there. We all stayed well into the evening and it was clear at some point that Liz was likely not going to open her eyes again. We all spent the night at her house and she had 24 hour hospice care.
Liz passed away on Monday afternoon with a house full of family and friends and love and her beloved Dooley by her side. Liz was 48 years young.
It was a strange and beautiful thing being able to spend the last hours with a friend and have the opportunity to tell them how much you admire them and how much you love them.
Thank you for welcoming me into your life Liz. Thank you for showing me grace, strength, integrity, kindness and love in a way that I will always remember.
Gone too soon my friend.
“love the life you live, live the life you love”