Holly and I met in elementary school, when we were seven years old. We were pretty much best friends right from the start. After school, we’d go biking together and have all sorts of fun. I grew up with her family as my second family and was at their cottage all the time – hiking, biking, and snowmobiling. They moved away when we were 12, but Holly and I always stayed in touch. When she moved back to the GTA not long after, it was an easy reconnect. We enjoyed the joy of adolescence together – going to concerts, laughing, and just taking our pure friendship for granted, which is the best feeling. Holly’s energy, spunk, and lust for life were remarkable.
She left us far too early – 25 years ago, when we were about 27 years old. Even though she has been gone for so long, I still feel our lifelong friendship so closely in my heart.
Holly’s last four years were tough as she struggled with cancer. It didn’t stop her from getting married, though. She married her love, and her reception was on a boat cruise around Centre Island. The centerpieces were little fishbowls with goldfish – it was absolutely adorable. We were each other’s maids of honour.
During her wedding, I was pregnant with my son Matthew– and everyone was hoping that I wouldn’t have the baby onboard, because I was ready to pop. He was born just two weeks later. I always attribute his musical skill – which no one else in our family has – a little bit to Holly, who was a beautiful flute player.
I clearly remember Holly’s energy after she attended a Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) workshop with her sister, way back when. It was so uplifting for her. All these years later, I went through my own cancer journey and also attended the LGFB workshops. I felt a strong sense of reconnection with Holly – more than I expected to, to be honest. It blew me away how when it was my turn, the workshop lifted my spirits just as it had for Holly. LGFB brought forward this optimism, joy, happiness, and distraction from the struggles I was going through. It connects people who wouldn’t otherwise know each other. It’s a wonderful thing.
I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had from my husband – and my amazing sons, Tanner and Matthew and feeling like Holly was with me at the workshop., Having them nurture and care for me has been the most heart-warming experience of my life. Tanner has accompanied me for almost every treatment, he makes sure I’m eating my smoothies, he takes me for walks – he literally takes care of me inside and out. And Matthew didn’t want me to be alone – he came over and took care of me. When I had to shave my hair, Matthew shaved his, too – and his hair was about 12 inches long. We held hands and shaved our heads together. That’s the kind of support I have from my kids. It’s immeasurable, really.
We’re certainly getting through this as a family. My husband, Chris, won’t let me start my day without him making me my fresh chia seed pudding with fresh berries. It’s such a sweet, innocent support that it’s almost hard to describe. It’s just pure love, I think.
It has helped me a lot to know that I’m not alone. The LGFB women, my family, Holly – they’ve all been by my side in one way or another.