Yesterday I lost a dear girlfriend to cancer. She was too young, her children all too young, much about her story was too soon. Neda was one of those wahine that was just so beautiful; have five children and not a lick of cellulite on her body. Thick gorgeous hair. A full smile whenever she cracked one. Mahina kona alo i nā manawa a pau. She lived for her children, two fine sons and three lovely daughters, as well as her loving husband, and two precious grandchildren. She had a good report about everybody and everything.

I remember that Haili tourney when her world was about to change as she faced a surprising diagnosis. When I learned about it, I drove home, without any passengers, and felt free, feral and primal enough to cry. Over the next several months, I watched her tackle chemo–without losing her hair(!!) exercise religiously and live with the determination to be healed.

Over the ensuing years I saw Neda's life go on; children graduate, grandchildren born, cheering at the kids sporting events and keeping her hand close in her family's ebb and flow. That was Neda. When cancer came back, her words were these, "I am healed. Don't worry about me. If you look at me and feel sorry for me, or think you are seeing a ghost, you have to do one of two things: get that idea out of your head or get out of my face. I need to surround myself with positivity and hope." So profoundly touched was I that I thanked her for giving me this critical life skill: how to treat someone who is fighting cancer.

From that time until this summer, whenever I saw Neda, our conversations were all about counting current blessings. We did lunches and coffee. We connected over our children's activities, supermarket runs, and spontaneous meet-ups. Our friendship was sweet and real, and I always left her presence with an uplifted spirit.

I cannot believe she is gone, and while I understand that she no longer suffers, the glow of sunrise this morning reminded me that today started the first day of her family's life continuing on without her. That fact that overwhelmed me once again, to cry feral, primal tears for the loss of my dear friend.

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