Bec is one of the reasons I feel so lucky. One of the biggest lessons I learnt from her was positivity. While hers is mostly a happy story, there is no happy ending. Bec was a friend. A good friend.
We met at university. I was studying nursing, Bec was studying accounting. She was a bit older than me, this was her second degree. We met when we both joined the hockey team. Soon we (“we” included Narelle, another hockey player) were inseparable as only young people can be! Our “Uni” days were filled with partying and just hanging out. You know how it goes, the last days of “freedom” before work and adult commitments take over. It really was a wonder we passed anything, let alone graduate, but graduate we did.
By the time I graduated, Bec was working for a top international accounting firm. She was living with Jeff. They had met and started seeing each other at Uni. After a year in the “Big Smoke”, Bec and Jeff moved to a large country town and got engaged. They got married. I got married. They got pregnant. Grace was stillborn. I’m really not sure how Bec did it but she and Jeff held things together. We spent a lot of time on the phone, Bec talking, me listening. What else could I do? Our homes were a 4 hour drive from each other. Bec got pregnant again.
About half way through her pregnancy I found out I was pregnant. Telling Bec was hard. A phone call I dreaded. It didn’t go well. She was too busy facing her own demons to hear about my pregnancy, to be happy for me. Maggie was born nearly 12 years ago. She was a happy healthy baby. While Bec didn’t forget Grace, she regained her zest for life. 4 months later, I had Yanni. Again our relationship was cemented on the phone, with the odd visit thrown in.
Very soon we were both pregnant again. This time we were both able to continue our lengthy phone conversations, comparing notes about our precious babies, pregnancy was still off limits. Our third pregnancies went a similar way. Although we rarely saw each other, we talked often, we shared everything, we were close. I knew all about her kids, how much she loved them, everything she did to give them the happy childhood she hadn’t had. Grace was never far from her thoughts. But Bec was happy, she was thankful for what she had in her life.
As our kids got older, we spent less time on the phone. We were both busy working, running our households, giving our time to our babies! Then one day I got a phone call. Bec had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She’d had a radical mastectomy and was now facing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I didn’t call as much as I could have. I knew she wouldn’t be feeling well. I didn’t want to bother her. She knew I was there for her. I confess, I misjudged the seriousness of Bec illness. I thought after her treatment she would be well and go on to live happily ever after. We would remain always just a phone call away.
She had scans done to check for residual cancer once her treatment was finished, and got the worst possible news. The cancer had spread to her liver and there was no prospect of cure. Only more chemotherapy to extend her life, give her more time with her precious little ones. At this point, I will make another confession, I found it hard to call Bec. I found it too hard. I didn’t know what to say. I also didn’t want her to spend time talking to me, know her time was short, knowing how much she loved her family. We did visit once though. I hope it was enough. I hope she knew how much I cared, that I was there for her and would do all I could for her and her family.
Four years ago today, Bec lost her battle. I lost a great friend. Bec was fiercely loyal to friends. She was intelligent. She had her own unique way of doing things. She was stubborn, especially when she knew she was right. Above all, she loved her children and wanted the world for them, worked hard to give them the world. She told them all before she died that she would be looking out for them from a star. She showed them the star, and told them they could talk to the star whenever they wanted to and she would be listening. I thought this was beautiful.
She knew her kids would thrive in the care of their father, her husband. She had faith that her children would be alright without her. While I still miss her, my heart still breaks for the 3 little people who lost their mother. My loss is nothing compared to theirs. They are doing well, they are growing into beautiful people.
I didn’t get to go to Bec’s funeral. It was a circumstance beyond my control. I’ve paid tribute to Bec in my own way. I’ve supported breast cancer research. I’ve run the Mother’s Day Classic for the past 3 years. I’ve done it in her memory. I figured if Bec (and anyone else who has done it) can go through chemotherapy, I should be able to run 8km. I can run 8km. I even like the event. I will do it again. Today I remember my friend. Today I remember life is short, you never know what is around the corner, so always look on the bright side. Today I remind myself to live a full life, to chase my dreams, to achieve my goals.