Today marks the birthday of a very special lifelong friend of mine, Michelle (aka Shelley), who sadly lost her battle with cancer in May last year. Today I reflect on her for the amazing person she was, and also for all that she has taught me, both herself and through her wonderful family…. And especially the many lessons I’ve learnt in life through her….
This past year has without a doubt been one of the most challenging ones of my life. So many mixed emotions and so much emotional turmoil yet so many wonderful lessons learned along the way. For I have always believed that where there is tragedy and sorrow there also have to be learnings or else for what purpose ?
I have been very lucky in my life in so many ways, I am grateful and live from a place of appreciation every day, but none moreso as when I reflect on the friendships I am lucky enough to share in and be blessed with in my life.
Let me tell you about my friendship with Michelle (aka Shelley) who I have known since we were in Year 1 at school (so we are talking a period of 40 years), a friend who I have shared so many fun times and laughs with, and built many amazing memories with over those years….we shared primary school moments, sporting challenges, laughs and tears over friends and boyfriends, we finished high school together and whilst we were not ‘best friends’ we were always good friends and didn’t need to speak regularly to know we could always count on each other no matter what. We were true friends. We went to the same university and shared many new friends there, we went to each other’s weddings and have watched our children be nurtured and grow into beautiful kind and considerate human beings.
However, it was not until my beautiful friend Shelley was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid 2011 that the true bond of our friendship came to the fore….she faced her battle with strength and courage and a dignity that is hard to express in words. I promised her I would be there for her and I have done my best all the way….
Watching someone you love like a sister fight such a battle is horrendous and yet she continued to face this demon head on….unfortunately in January 2015 the news we hadn’t wanted to hear was spoken and became a reality. However we were lucky enough to spend some wonderful quality time together over that summer and share some laughs as well as many tears. These are memories I will treasure forever.
Then came more gruelling treatment and many hours spoken on the phone reassuring and listening and crying together as we worked through the process of truly Letting Go.
It was in her final days however, that I learned my greatest lessons and truths….Sharing someone’s final days on earth with them and their family is the ultimate privilege and one that I will be grateful for until the end of my time.
Shelley taught me how to love unconditionally, how to find strength when there didn’t seem to be any left to find, how to face fears head on and how to ensure you have lived your life to the full and leave with no regrets….to ensure that when your time on this earth is done there is absolutely nothing left unsaid and that you can be truly at peace with those you love and within yourself. She taught me how to find the rainbows in life.
I was so privileged as to be able to give Shelley the gift of true friendship right to the end and to help her transition into the next life as gracefully and peacefully as was possible and for that I will be forever grateful….and she in turn gave me the gift of so much more….but in particular I now find myself just knowing that I will live my life to the full, love every minute of it, (the ups and the downs), with absolute gratitude and appreciation and always give of my best so there will not be any regrets moving forward….
And whilst there is still such sadness at the loss of such a beautiful friend at such a young age, her legacy lives on and I already have a sense of inner peace like never before.
Thank you Shelley and may you forever be at peace xoxo
Cheers to you, my beautiful friend xxxx