I’d be lying if I said the world didn’t seem a little less bright today. Yesterday, I learned that one of my best friends and roommates from college, Sarah, passed away. She was 36.
I remember meeting this girl who was, at first, shy and somewhat awkward, from a small town in Colorado. We lived on campus together freshman year with three other girls. Sarah was serious about school and would spend hours in her bedroom studying. I remember thinking that we probably wouldn’t get along since I never studied. =)
Little did I know how much she would impact my life.
I learned that she had had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a child, which had developed into lupus as she got older. Occasionally, this made her day-to-day routines complicated or painful, but more often than not she was smiling, inspiring philosophical conversation or plotting her next big adventure.
Sarah loved life and she loved people. She blossomed in that first year away at school into someone who was so authentically herself, quirks and all, that she delighted those around her and encouraged us all to be just as real. This is one of my favorite pictures from our first year at college. She was trying to fly a kite from our balcony on campus.
Sarah told another roommate, Marie, that she knew she wouldn’t live long. She lived so deliberately and powerfully, yet gently. Sarah lived in Africa for a time and was involved in all sorts of endeavors that made other people’s lives better. Her heart was wide open and led the way for her many feats. This pic is Sarah, Marie and me with way too much time on our hands at the airport.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
Another favorite picture: Sarah and I singing at my 21st birthday. (Note my eyebrow ring, circa 1999.)
We lived together the first three years of college, until Sarah decided she wanted to become a doctor. She transferred schools (we didn’t have a pre-med program at our university) and went on to earn her MD at Mayo Clinic. The photo below is at her graduation party in Denver.
In 2004, Sarah visited me in Chicago. I think this was the last time I saw her in person. She was always up for anything so we took her along to a family gathering. Here we are with my sister, Hilary.
Six years ago, Sarah began having non-convulsive seizures which led to slurred speech, cloudy cognition, and rendered her unable to practice medicine. I don’t believe they ever identified the cause. Her final battle was swine flu, which she contracted this year, and was unable to fight off. She was complete and from the accounts of her family, was at peace with the final decision to remove life support.
As Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven is within. That is where she is now… in my heart and the hearts of all those who loved her.
Sarah, a spirit among spirits. I love you and miss you dearly.
I look forward to dancing and laughing with you again.