I arrived in Boston on Monday, and was greeted by a rather chipper Erica who picked me up from the airport. She looks amazing, and it is so so good to see the sparkle in her eyes alive and well. Since then, we've filled our days with shopping, reading, napping and hammocking. Let me tell you from first hand experience that there is no better way to spend a summer afternoon in Boston than curled up on a large hammock with a good book, a great friend and a pitcherful of virgin peach sangria! Our spirits restored, we then headed off for to tour Harvard Square before we being "Potterized" by Jaci. (def: dragged to see the Order of the Phoenix, though I've never read any of the books or seen any of the movies and have no interest in wizardry whatsoever :). We've also spent two lovely evenings out with Jaci and Dr. Sirulnik, eating and drinking and enjoying time with a healthier Erica. Though I know her journey is far from over, it is so encouraging to see her light up a room again.
Quick update for those who I haven't met: I've known Erica since we were underclassmen at St. Joseph High School: since the day a popular sophomore took a chance on a brace-faced freshman from her JV volleyball team. The friendship was quickly cemented through bonding afternoons at Olive Garden (breadsticks and dipping sauce for the teenagers on a budget), double dating, movie marathons (Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, anyone?), spirited debates conducted over bowls of Java Chip ice cream, and mutual support through the various trials and tribulations that high school presented. Against the odds, we kept in touch throughout college- meeting in Pasadena for shopping and beach time, or convening up north for Giants games and BART adventures (seriously, who designed that system!). We rang in the new millenium together in Mexico, ("please make that little man with the whistle and tequila go away!") Through travels, breakups, job hunts, deaths in the family, relocations and countless personal hardships, she was always there for me. I figured that would be as tough as things got. Then came the real world, and the really hard stuff. Like what she's going through now. I will never be able to wrap my head around how and why this happened to her. If there was ever a girl who lived life, it was this one, and so this seems to me to be the cruelest act possible. I could probably try to put a silver lining on this cloud, talk about how Erica will come out of this experience stronger and with a new zest for life, and I'm sure there is truth to that but the greater truth is that she didn't need leukemia to give her strength or perspective. Since the day I met her, she has had both in spades. I guess the bottom line is, though I have no idea why cancer chose Erica, I know that I have never been prouder to call her my friend than I am today. Watching her struggle with and overcome this disease on a daily basis with a bravery and grace I cannot imagine possessing makes my heart physically hurt with love and pride.
Today is Wednesday (hospital day), and as I write this, Erica is sleeping, awaiting her next chemo treatment. I feel lucky to be able to be here for this but it's hard to imagine she does this (usually) alone every single wednesday. It's comforting to demystify what is happening to her and it's impossible to watch her and Kecia (her awesome nurse-- pictured here) cut up without joining in. Anyone reading this who happens to find themselves with a free Wed. afternoon should definitely consider catching their show! And I'm sure Erica would really welcome the company!