October 14, 2016

When words are not enough--losing a friend #Cancer #Pinktober

When words are not enough--losing a friend #Cancer #Pinktober @kayelleallen
Kayelle and Reaghan; airport San Francisco
I first met writer Reaghan Moore when she joined my critique group. Back then, we were all on MeetUp.com and joined ahead of moving from California to Georgia. We saw a few posts from her before she moved, but I'll never forget seeing her walk in the door. I recognized her at once from her pictures. There was a feeling that I'd known her for a long time, when in fact we were meeting for the first time that day.
From the beginning, our group knew she had lung cancer and that she had moved out here to stay with her sister, because Reaghan was unable to live alone. It would save money to be with family, and she had absolute faith in her sister. I've gotten to know Kim, and Reaghan was right. Kim is a rock. She doesn't think so, but she is.
Reaghan began a drug trial and bounced back so well that the two of us made a trip to San Francisco together last year. She wanted to visit friends there (her original hometown) and I love to travel, so it was a good fit. We had a blast. We had planned another trip in late June to visit some of her friends in Arizona. The night before we were to leave, she collapsed.
She ended up in the hospital, and the friends she had visited in other states all came to her. It was a party in her room, with friends and family. The doctors encouraged her to enjoy her time, because the cancer had returned full force. There was no longer anything they could do. Her sister told us Reaghan had weeks, not months.
I put together a Facebook group for Reaghan's friends so we could coordinate visits with her. It also gave Kim a single place to update people and to ask if she needed help with picking up things or walking the dogs. We used the group to gather photos and another friend put them in an electronic picture frame so she could have pictures of her friends with her 24/7. Another person brought her two stuffed dogs that looked like her own Maltese and Schnauzer, Pacman and Baron. They stayed where she could see them every day. Her sister brought the real ones to visit her in hospice. I was sorry I missed seeing that reunion.
When words are not enough--losing a friend #Cancer #Pinktober @kayelleallen
Kayelle and Reaghan
San Francisco (2015)
Three weeks later, at the end of July, Reaghan was gone. It happened so fast. For all you think
you've prepared yourself, you just can't. I've been forgetting to eat (trust me -- not like me!) and sleeping far more than usual. I haven't been able to focus. I'm talking to a grief counselor, and it's helping. I'm convinced, however, that only time will assuage the pain of missing such a dear friend.
Reaghan entrusted me with finishing her books; a trilogy, an anthology, and two novellas. The work was over 90% done when I got it. I haven't been able to face any of it. Just can't. I hear her voice in the words and it breaks my heart. We had gotten close over the last couple of years. The two of us had breakfast or lunch together once a week. We had lunch with the critique group every Tuesday. We traveled. I drove her to doctor visits when she was beginning her treatment. We drove in a blizzard together (in Atlanta!) and we almost ran out of gas one time by going too far on fumes. I worried; she laughed. We were very different, but we were the best of friends. We told each other things we'd never tell anyone else. We spent time together. So the sudden cessation feels empty. Hollow.
When I asked my critique group to write a few words about her, no one could. Not because we didn't love her and didn't admire her absolute tenacity and will to live. But because of those very things. One of them shared with me why she can't, and I think it works for all of us. "You want a celebration of a life fought for. Just writing these few lines made me cry, not because of what I have said, but because of what I haven't."
How do you write about someone you've recently lost? I know. I'm a writer. I'm supposed to put all of this into perspective so I can harness the emotions to write even better. I will. Eventually. Right now, I need time to grieve. I will come back. I will write about Reaghan's amazing life. I will finish her books. It was a deathbed promise and I will honor it.
One thing I have learned about cancer is that those who fight--live. Those who refuse to stop--keep going. But this is a powerful disease. It's one reason I set aside a week on this blog for guest authors to come and share. We must never give in. We must never let cancer win. We must be victorious.
Please, never stop fighting. Never stop moving forward. And never stop doing everything you can to help find a cure.
Kayelle Allen


  1. Replies
    1. She was amazing. I wish I could do her justice on paper, but she was a living breathing force to be reckoned with. How can you hope to capture that on paper?

  2. Lovely words Kayelle. I did not have the privilege of knowing her but from what I have heard and read about her, she was amazing.

    Dee Owens
    Personalized Marketing

    1. Thank you, Dee. Looking forward to your story tomorrow!

  3. I really appreciate you sharing this. I know it was difficult. It would have been difficult for me. I have many acquaintances but very few truly close friends. So I view close friends as very rare and precious people. She was so very lucky to meet you and the writing group and she knew it - we talked about it several times. She said she was happier in Canton, writing, than she had ever been. I guess we never fully know what parts we play in the lives of our friends but you all were very much a part of making her last years the happiest ones. How wonderful is that? She loved you all very much and I thank you all for being part of her life. If she had given up when she was diagnosed, just look at what she would have missed!

    1. Hugs and more hugs! I learned to hug from your sister. :) I can write it, but doing it in real life has always been hard for me. But after hanging out with the "hug expert" I can now do it and enjoy it. LOL You're so right. I'm glad she fought, for so many reasons. Her stories are incredible. Her friendship changed me in many ways. She even affected my hubby. He considered her a sister.

  4. Hi, Kayelle. I'm so sorry you lost your friend. I know by journaling how you feel, that helps. There is no rule that says you have to say something about someone. We did share stories about Dad when he passed, but no one could do one for Mom. Just too darn hard. Hugs, my friend.

    1. Thank you, Vicki. That's a good point. I appreciate you stopping by.


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