Saturday, June 2, 2012

When a heart breaks

Angie died yesterday. She was 32. She wasn’t conscious there for the few days before the end, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t ugly before that. Because that’s what cancer is – it’s a cold, cruel, harsh motherfucker that shows no one any mercy. It’s Angie not being able to swallow for the last month or so, it’s Stacey’s brother Daniel not knowing who anyone is, it’s Catherine the world traveler waking up paralyzed, it’s Marie and Tink and Janet and Jennifer and DaNelle and Mandy, all here one day and gone the next.

It’s not some Terms of Endearment-esque bullshit of a soft exhalation of breath after profound last words, nor does it have anything to do with pink ribbons and fluff and feather boas and all the other crap that people think breast cancer in particular has come to mean. Yay yay rah rah aren’t we so curable? Clearly not.

To know Angie was to realize how damn funny she was, that dry sardonic wit that was as unique as she was. I found myself telling Angie that I hated her, jokingly, because she was funnier than me. Those who know me at all know that that’s one of the highest compliments I could ever pay someone.

While we all loved Angie, no one loved her more than Cori. I have many Cancerchick friends who I adore, but Cori, Melindy, and Kim, they’re my posse. I would do anything for them. And I know they feel the same. But even among the four of us, even as we all note that we share one brain (which, hmm, might explain a lot), there are those extra special bonds where you feel that you and that other person are twins separated at birth.  Angie was Cori’s person. So I’ll let Cori’s Facebook post explain who Angie was:

“I've had a few people message me and ask me how I think Angie wanted to be remembered. I don't know, we really never spoke about it other than my pledge to get her face and name tattooed across my back Sons of Anarchy style. (or should I say I threatened her with that. :) ). But if anyone knows Angie, they knew she loved animals. She had been a vegetarian since her early teens. She loved her cats Ty and Brat and I am comforted knowing she left the hospital albeit briefly to see them. She used to run up my stairs to visit the chinchillas first thing. I think she would have loved Pudgy more, but she openly admitted her jealous rivalry and she claimed he was my favorite child. 

I know that her friends from Canada Min and Nan would be better able to answer this question, but if I had to, I would say do something for the animals. She wasn't super vocal about it, but she loved animals, especially cats. I asked Dan if I could adopt a cat and name it Angie, he of course is being selfish and thinking nothing about himself and his stupid asthma and asked me not to. But he did donate to a local no kill cat shelter last night in her name.

The other reason people loved Angie so much is she was so incredibly accepting of anyone and respectful of their right to be accepted and happy. Her heart was so big and so full especially for the downtrodden. Angie believed whatever your beliefs were, religious, political, whatever, she was cool with it. She changed the whole way I look at the world. And i'm completely serious about that. I am a totally different person due to Angie. I would say, if you knew Angie and you loved her, than you loved her because she was wonderful and kind inside and out and loved everyone especially her 'homos' as she loved to call them. One of the last things she said to me was and I quote 'I love dykes'. Swear to God. If you loved Angie, be like Angie, accept everyone and play nice on the playground. I know I've been a happier person. WWAD. What would Angie Do? That's my mantra for life.”

Angie wouldn’t want us to light candles for her now – unless it was in the form of a huge bonfire sending a bunch of pink ribbons up in flames.  Because Angie was not at peace with all this – she was pissed off. If anyone could give cancer the middle finger, it was Angie. While I hate all the “fight” terminology associated with cancer, Angie was a fucking fighter, dammit. She was badass. Her evil sneaky sonofabitch cancer kept coming back, throwing all sorts of garbage at her: skin mets, then mets to the pleural lining, then to the brain, then liver. Every single time she said fuck you, and went off to seek other kinds of treatment, going from home in Montreal to New York, to Boston, to wherever there was a chance of a different treatment or a trial or anything at all. She was diagnosed right after she finished law school, and never got to practice law – but I know she would have been a badass lawyer too, because that’s how she was with everything she did.

I was looking through Angie’s Facebook pics, and came across one from her pre-cancer days, and my heart stopped for a second. That’s Angie? I stared at the picture for many moments trying to recognize her. Angie was always gorgeous, but here she radiated a beautiful vibrancy (even though she joked that she looked half-asleep), and had the world at her fingertips. Cancer took what it could, stole from Angie the life she should have had, but it never diminished her, not for a second.

"A million lights are dancing, and there you are, a shooting star." The world is worse off because she’s no longer here. We all are.

Angie went out a champ.


Lisa said...

TY, Gazelle :) Spent a long time tonight reading the old boards. Laughing and crying at the same time.

Lesley said...

Im so sorry, Tasha. I didn't know Angie as well as some at Ysc, but I loved her sharp wit and humor. And of course, I totally get it on your posse.

And you know I love to talk as much as anyone- but I am so out of words from so many deaths- just wave after wave of so many young women; real women- I feel like I can't even Angie a proper tribute.

But she doesn't need one from me when she has posse like you.

Kim said...

Love you so much Tasha! And so lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for your loving tribute to our beautiful Angie and all our friends. And thank you for being my "person". I am so grateful for that! And so grateful for all our friendships.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. You're a badass, funny friend. I bet your words made her laugh from the heavens...

RP said...

beautiful T. Thanks for sharing her story. ((hugs))