How can I describe Linda? How can I express the feelings I’ve shared with her and the light she gave me? I’m not sure that’s possible, at least not at this time.

Linda came into my life after I reached out to CancerConnect. When Bubba (my Dad) was  first diagnosed with cancer I had meltdown, or in other words a panic attack. I knew I was going to have a very difficult time. I was here in Austin, Texas while he was back home in Conneaut, Ohio about 1500 miles away.

I started questioning how I was going to survive this. How could I be there for him if I was here, so far away from him. I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I started doing research online for resources. That’s when CancerConnect, which is now apart of The Care Communities, shined like a beacon. I called and told them a little bit about my situation of being long distance with my family and not having money to get counseling. They said they would connect me with a counselor who could help. A few days later is when Linda reached out to me.

Linda had experienced giving long distance support for her family when her father got sick. She understood me in a way that no one else did. She wasn’t pushy about getting a lot of information right away. She allowed me to open up as I felt safe to. I still struggle with letting people in, to let others know my true feelings inside but she didn’t mind. She had me start with that day and go back as I needed to. That’s when I knew she was different. She would be there to help me through this painful time of my life and guide me with experience and true concern.

She wasn’t getting anything out of it. She wasn’t getting paid (at least not from me) yet she was so present. She was the most sincere person I had ever met. If I started down a hole that would lead me to more darkness, she wouldn’t cut me off. She allowed me to express the shadows that were weighing me down and then showed me how to crawl out from under them. The power she showed me I had was remarkable. Never had I understood the capacity I had to endure so much.

Within 6 months of my Dad getting sick, he was gone. We lost him early Saturday morning at 1:50 a.m. on February 18th 2012. I was suppose to fly out on Friday but I felt a pull on my soul. I knew he needed me and I needed to go. I changed my plane ticket early Wednesday morning and flew out to Cleveland within 3 hours. Linda told me I could call her while I was there whenever I needed to.

I always felt so weak but she shone lights on things that didn’t make sense to me. I felt so pathetic and broken without any strength left to go on but she saw me in a different way. She understood my weaknesses and imperfections but said that doesn’t mean I’m feeble or inadequate. It means I’m human who’s gone through some traumatic situations and I need to be patient with myself.

I called her while I was in Ohio, after it all happened. After I had sat there holding his hand for days. After calling for the body donation people to come get him. After curling up in his chair where he took his last breath and dreamt of only white for a couple hours. She didn’t say much but just having her answer her phone was significant. She showed me that she cared enough even though she didn’t have to.

That is what set the tone for your relationship. She was there when I needed her. She was still there after I came back from saying Goodbye to Bubba, to the abusive relationship that ended, to starting a new relationship, to losing grandparents and most life altering after my Dad, losing my brothers. She has helped me so much.

Linda has sat on the floor with me as I collapsed on her rug as soon as I entered her room the day after we lost Adam. That’s all I remember about that day. Crying on her rug that had given me so much comfort before. Her presence with that rug soothed me in a way I can’t explain. She’s hugged me and I felt some pain melt away. She would gently rubbed my back as I exited her door and that gave me a sense of ease that I could walk out that door and not dissolve.

Linda and I shared precious and painful moments for over 5 years. I learned so much about her and from her. She became a trusted friend who I love and cherish dearly. The amount of tenderness I hold for her can never be measured. Her pure heart has made a genuine difference in this world.

She retired the last day of September. I have mixed feelings about it for only selfish reasons. I miss our meetings and that rug that soothed me. But I’m happy she’s doing what’s best for her. She gets to experience life in a new way and she deserves that. She can take her pup for hikes whenever she wants, she can bird watch and travel the world.

Linda, the woman who changed my life. Thank you. I truly do love you for who you are.