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Now it is my friend Grace who is gone. Grace and I met soon after I moved to Chicago. Last Christmas, Grace was diagnosed with metastasized stomach cancer, and was told she had no chance of remission. From the moment that she got her diagnosis, Grace evolved emotionally, physically, spiritually at rapid speed. She so wanted to live for her children, for her husband, for her family, for her friends, for the wondrousness of life itself. She was willing to do absolutely anything and everything to heal.

Without having met our Boston cancer doctor, somehow Grace had gotten his message loud and clear – nothing is malarkey. In addition to joining a clinical trial, she changed her diet, started meditating, saw a healer, worked out with the trainer, formed what we came to call her Team Grace. She did this without blind, hysterical, dogmatic energy. Instead, she just let go of anything that was no longer healthy; the way Buddha gave up material attachments. Like Lao-Tzu, Grace increasingly seemed to align herself with the Force, the natural order of things. None of this ultimately stopped her from dying. But it did mean that her journey to death was rich and rewarding and full of personal growth.

I miss Kim and Grace dearly. Sometimes it feels like the pain of each additional death is cumulative, so that when my heart shatters again, it is not just for this friend, but for my other dead friends, too. It breaks for my Mom, for Grandpa and Grandma. It fragments for Husband’s wonderful and brilliant sister Arabella who died at only 48, a non-smoker from lung cancer. Now Arabella is no longer chief of staff at Shriners Hospital in Honolulu, now no longer mother to her five-year-old son, now no longer wife to her dearest husband.

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