A good friend of mine died on Saturday. I heard the news through a mutual friend of mine and Liz’s; our children grew up together and we spent a lot of time together. I am deeply saddened by the news that she has died and it has struck me in a way that I hadn’t expected. She has been battling breast cancer for a good few years now. I don’t remember when she was first diagnosed but it must be at least 7 years and for a while it seemed like she had beaten it.
She was a fighter – isn’t that what people say about friends, sisters, mothers, aunts who suffer? But Liz was, not one to give up without a fight; she was a feisty one. I remember when her hair grew back after chemo all short and spiky she dyed it bright red!
Liz was a wonderfully vibrant person, who I remember always with a smile on her face. No, more than that, a huge grin and a wonderful laugh. I remember well the “Frustrated Mothers” quiz team that won the local school PTA quiz night every year – we morphed into the “Desperate Housewives” (or was it the other way round!?) but still won and it was really down to Liz’s depth of knowledge of Literature, film and TV that we won so consistently, the rest of us just made up the numbers! I also remember nights down at the pub, dancing and singing, she was the life and soul of the party. I wonder how much of that PC (post cancer) was the desperate desire to live every moment as if it was her last!
I think it was after she was diagnosed that Liz persuaded me to swim 3km in Lake Windermere to raise funds for Breast Cancer, we trained together in the pool at Ingleton and then set out on a freezing cold day on the 1st September to plunge into the chilly choppy waters. We did it and strangeley enough, enjoyed it. Thanks, Liz. That started me on a spate of runs and cycle rides to raise funds for Breast Cancer – it is scary how many of my friends have suffered, recovered or died from this dreadful disease.
Since coming to New Zealand I have maintained contact with Liz through Facebook and have seen the strength she had. I was worried over the last few months with her comments about continuous bouts of illness but she maintained her feistiness and determination not to give in. I don’t know the details of how the cancer had progressed, I just know that when we left Ingleton to come across the world, things were looking positive. Or maybe Liz knew all along and just didn’t let on to any but those closest to her. I was told that she was told only last week that the cancer had spread to her liver and that she only had weeks to live. Luckily her lovely girls made it home from university to be with her when she died.
Her girls are beautiful young ladies, Kate babysat for me when my boys were younger and Immy and Lachlan were very similar in age so played together when they were younger. I also taught them both at QES. I am sure that Liz was very proud of the way they have grown up, and so she should be because her strength and vivacity is what made them the way they are.
I too lost my Mum at the age of 20 so I know something of what they might be going through right now; time is a great healer, but even though the pain lessens over the years the memories remain. And so they should because Mums are special people; there will be times when really all you want is your Mum and even now, 30 years later, I think of my Mum almost everyday.
But I risk getting maudlin and lives, however short should be celebrated. And Liz’s might have been short but it was definitely worth celebrating. So, I raise a glass to you Liz! Go sock it to the angels!