I'm not an emotional person. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, but more likely buried under 14 layers of stuff. I don't cry often, and if I do, it's really bad. I generally chose to let things build up until I'd can't hide them anymore. It's not healthy nor ideal, but it's me. As a result, I have a hard time explaining my emotions and knowing how to react in emotional situations. The last time I can remember full out breaking down was exactly one year ago today.
A woman, whom I'd never met nor had an actual phone conversation with, lost her incredibly valiant fight with leukemia. Her name was Amanda, aka Alabama Pink. I'd read her blog for a very long time, shared emails and FB conversations with her. I felt like she was a friend, even if only in that odd way of the internet connection. I cared a great deal about her and I still do. She was funny, smart, with a wicked sharp wit, and a humor and grace about the worst parts of life that I can only hope to have should I find myself in a similar situation. She loved her husband and her son fiercely, and spoke about them so beautifully. Put simply, she was a beautiful person, inside and out.
When it was first made public knowledge that she was sick, I hoped like hell that it was minor and fixable. However, as the fog cleared and the picture became clearer, I was scared for her. She was what we in the south call " good people". Bad things shouldn't happen to good people. Every day, I'd look for a new blog from her or her husband, anxious for some news. I didn't know how to go about contacting them and I honestly didn't want to be the crazy lady poking around in someone else's business. When they posted about the genetics of her illness, I became even more scared (possibly because I'm an uber-geek and researched it). Out of all the cancers in my family, leukemia was a new one. I didn't know how to fight it. However, about 2 months after Manda's diagnosis, my father-in-law, a man I love quite a lot, was also diagnosed with leukemia, but a different type. I got a crash course in leukemia at that point. That year became a blur of leukemia updates, hospitals, and hope for Manda and my father-in-law. His CLL is currently in remission.
I followed Manda's journey of hospitals, clinical trials, and the search for treatment. Every time things went bad, I'd try to remain hopeful. After the Johns Hopkins mean doctor, I sent her an email with a funny photo, in what had to be a sad attempt to cheer her up. I didn't know what else to do and I felt like that may be the only thing I could do. She sent me back a lovely reply. Then, she went to Houston and I hoped things would turn out for the best. Her very last blog post about Barbara Bush being right down the road still makes me laugh. I have this idea of what she sounded like and what her laugh was like and hear that sound when I read it. It makes me smile. All of us know what followed. That morning, I got to work and logged onto FB and saw the Pajiba link. Audibly, I said "No". I went Pajiba, her blog, and finally her husbands. I broke down at my desk for a long time. I couldn't stop crying. I felt like a fool crying for someone I'd never met. I didn't know how to explain it. She was one of the nicest people I've ever had the privileged of knowing, even if only in limited capacity. I still think about her often. I'd love to know how she would have felt about the Alice In Wonderland movie. Miss you Manda.