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  • I had moved into an apartment complex in April of 1999 and every year they had an Annual Christmas Party at the clubhouse. The first year I did not go… because it was my first Christmas on my own, alone at the age of 44. I had been seeing a counselor since February that was working hard with my depression to keep me from doing the unthinkable. I went on medication… under protest… after all; I didn’t need anything to make me feel better… that was for “weak” people. Oh, the thoughts we have about things we know nothing about.
    Since February of 1999, I had pretty much cut myself off from everyone… friends and family. My relationship of almost 14 years had gone south and I was crushed. I tried to stay, but finally moved out in April. (This is a whole other story to be told at a later date)
    So, when the Christmas Party came around in 2000, I was not planning on going … but I’m so glad I got up the strength to put a smile on my face and go. If not, I would not have met one of the most wonderful people this world had ever known.
    Her name was Donna... a divorced woman with two grown daughters. Her husband had an affair because he thought she was dying. Pretty poor excuse, if you ask me. You see, she had ovarian cancer and had been through numerous operations and rounds of chemo. They were originally from Ohio, but had moved to the St. Louis area and then to Texas… where she was first diagnosed with cancer. When she found out about the affair, she packed up what would fit in her van and headed to St. Louis where she had many friends and a daughter.
    She had just moved into the apartment complex and this was her first Christmas after her divorce. She was someone that made head turns when she entered a room… have you ever met anyone like that?... conversations stop and people look to see who it is? She was not arrogant or stuck up… she was beautiful and elegant… a magnetic presence.
    I knew that we would be good friends from that moment on… and we were. She loved animals and had a big black lab that she could not have at the apartment complex… her sister in Ohio had taken him. When she met my beagle, Buster, they clicked. She was unable to work because of the cancer… so, when I got home from work, I would call her to see how she was and if she was up for some company. If she said, yes… I would ask Buster if he wanted to go see Donna… he would run to the back door and as soon as I opened it, he would run up the hill to her apartment back door… where she was waiting to let him in. I like to think that we brought her a little joy even when she was sick.
    I watched her go through many more treatments and operations, but always with a positive outlook and a strength I had never witnessed before. There are people that come into your life that make you stop looking at your own problems that are minor compared to the real life and death ones.
    I was blessed with knowing Donna for only a few years… she passed away on September 29th, 2003 at the age of 55. Way too young! She missed her youngest daughter’s wedding in 2004 and the birth of her grandchildren. (Also, a whole other story) Next week it will be 9 years since she passed...However, she has never really left us… she remains in our hearts forever.

    (Picture is of Donna with her black lab, Damien. Both now in heaven.)
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