I have been thinking about writing about my friend Belinda for a long time but it’s one of those things you have to be ready for. This Valentines Day will mark three years since she left us. If there could be a perfect day for a person to leave this world, Valentines day would be it for her. I’m sure she chose that day. I’m sure she did it as her final message to everyone to always remember to love and be kind. That’s what she would want for everyone in her life because that’s what she gave us all everyday.
I remember exactly where I was sitting when I got her email almost four years ago. It was a group message to her friends to let us know (but not to worry) that she had been diagnosed with melanoma that had metastasized into several large tumors in her organs. It was numbing. We knew she hadn’t been feeling well for a few months but never thought this 33 year old, beautiful, vibrant new mother could be sick like this. I think the news knocked everyone to their knees, except Belinda. She was nearing the end of her maternity leave after the birth of her first child Parker and instead of preparing for her return to work; she changed her to focus to fighting for her life.
Our friends banded together and formed the BStrong team in an effort to make Belinda feel supported and also because we felt helpless and just wanted to do something. There is nothing worse than watching someone you love suffer and all you want to do is take their pain away. Her family circled around her with so much love and her husband was what would Belinda would call “a rockstar.” Their support for her was something that has touched me forever and was a true example of what real love is.
Belinda got really sick, really fast. Her cancer was so aggressive and so ruthless but when you talked to her, she never let you see it. She never complained, she never stopped smiling and she never.stopped.fighting. I can say with 100% certainty that I will NEVER meet a person that is stronger then her. We would tell her this all the time and her response was always the same, “what other choice does a Mama have then to fight for their babe?!.” As a parent I can understand wholeheartedly what she meant, but as a bystander there is just no way to put into words what strength like that looks like.
I have this vivid memory of somberly walking through the halls at the hospital with my friends to go see her after it was discovered her cancer had spread. We were SHOCKED when we walked in her room and was greeted with her usual Belinda cheer and huge beautiful smile “Hi Girls!!!!!!,” she literally sang to us. She proceeded to chat away and tell us all the good news she got from her doctor that morning…..and by good news I mean, she was about to start radiation for 10 straight days because her fight wasn’t over. You know when you hear about people choosing joy and that it’s not about the news you get its how you deal with it? Well Belinda chose joy in the most dire of circumstances. She was incredible. It was impossible not to get caught up in her positivity and we all left the hospital looking at each other like “so is it not that bad??!!” It was. Two months later, on a day set to celebrate love, she chose to rest. Her will to live to the very end was iron, she just knew when it was time to stop fighting.
I still think about her all the time and I know I always will. When you experience the loss of a life so big like that, your grief changes you forever. It leaves an imprint on your heart that will always be there. I think it reshapes your path for the future and the hope is that in time, it will make you live with more purpose and more fight. I’m trying for her.
At her funeral, the priest said, “there are some answers to that three letter question (why) that we won’t find an answer for in this world.” That gave me so much peace because deep down I knew it was true. I didn’t need to look for a reason because I’d never get one good enough. What I have taken from it is that every day that we wake up in good health, is the most incredible gift. We need to take that gift and make it our duty to live the best life that we possibly can. This is what inspired me to pursue a career change and go after the life I wanted for my family. Belinda’s favorite color was purple so when I was designing my logo for my new business, there was no question on what the color had to be. My purple logo is a daily reminder to me how precious this life is and to live with that in mind always. How can I not when I’m lucky enough to have today? That message is too powerful to me to waste.
On Belindas headstone the inscription reads “there is nothing more beautiful than a person who goes out of their way to make life more beautiful for others.” That was my friend. Her message to us all; be a light. Be kind. BStrong.
Love you forever Belinda xo