My best friend died six weeks ago.  My head is filled with all kinds of new knowledge that I have needed to share with others, but have not found the strength until now.  I do not want her passing to be in vain, so I hope that some of the lessons I have learned will benefit you as well.

Lindsay and I met when we were 14 years old.  We shared 18 years of laughter and tears, secrets and inside jokes, momentous life occasions and not-so-momentous everyday life experiences.  Lindsay was probably best known for her giant smile and amazing sense of humor.  She was also that friend that was always there, for every important and unimportant event in your life.  She was intelligent, kind and genuine, and this world is a lot crappier without her in it.

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Lindsay had ovarian cancer, and that is the first lesson I would like to preach about.  Ladies: pay attention.  This is a very deadly form of cancer because the symptoms do not talk to you; they whisper.  Know the symptoms, and talk to your doctor right away if you are experiencing them.  Men, talk to your wives and sisters and mothers and daughters.  Make sure that every woman you know and care about is familiar with these symptoms and prepared to take action right away.

I will now step down from my soapbox and talk about dealing with difficult situations.  Personally, I find myself empathizing with others when they are going through terrible times, but still in the back of my mind feeling thankful that it isn’t happening to me or someone I love.  You never think it’s going to hit your world, but the fact is, it does.  In one way or another, you will experience grief and heartache and you have to ask yourself: how will you handle it?  I always imagined that I would be the sort of person who got under my covers for six months until my family had an intervention.  However, I somehow found strength within to support Lindsay’s family and I feel so grateful for that.  At a time when all I wanted to do was help, and the only thing they wanted was for Lindsay to be healthy, I found myself arranging food on the table, getting ice and providing wine.  Not much, but it made me feel useful and gave her family extra moments to spend with her.  This is not so much of a lesson, but something to think about – how can you be of service to others who are grieving?  And how will you take care of yourself during that time?

The next lesson I learned was to hold on to your friendships tight.  Lindsay and I attended different colleges, and while we kept in touch, we weren’t in regular contact with one another during those years.  About six years ago, Lindsay and I decided to start having monthly dinners.  And thank God we did.  I would not trade those six years for anything, and feel so grateful that I got to spend that time with her to rekindle our friendship.  If you have a friend that you care about and want in your life, then do everything you can to keep that friend in your life.  Friendships are like any relationship – they need to be nurtured, and you have to be willing to put in the work to keep them alive.

Finally, don’t wait to do the things you want to do.  Don’t feel embarrassed to reveal your dreams to your loved ones, as they will likely help you accomplish them.  To quote a line from about a million songs, you may not have tomorrow.  Take advantage of every moment you have on this earth, work to accomplish your dreams, and strive to have no regrets.  Be kind and loving to others, so when you do pass on, the memories people have of you will be positive and happy, just like the memories that myself and Lindsay’s loved ones have of her.

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