Thursday, June 04, 2009

Happy 30th Birthday, Erica!

Today is Erica's 30th birthday, a milestone that she should have reached and had the pleasure to celebrate with her loved ones. And for those of us who did have the pleasure to know her well, can you even imagine how big and festive this party would have been?? Certainly there would be dancing, laughter, drinks and lots of food from around the world! I can hear her voice saying, "the more the merrier" (as she frequently did!) and I think she would have wanted every friend she ever had to know they were welcome at her party.

It's funny because I have been so hesitant to blog. I remember her nagging at me over and over again to blog for her because she was too tired to write and she didn't like huge gaps of time between postings... But now, it doesn't feel appropriate to speak for her on this site that has evolved into her amazing journey and the place that allowed her a chance to process her thoughts and feelings. I don't want to make assumptions about what she would have done had she lived, who she would have become, what paths she would've chose... Nor should anyone try.
She was full of surprises and my favorite were her birthday surprises!! When I was 14 years old, Erica threw a surprise dance party in our garage for me (still my favorite birthday memory!) to each year as adults doing something together and new, I always looked forward to celebrating the marking of another year with her.

So this year, on her birthday, I am proud to announce that Erica Jean Murray has earned her Master of Arts from Tufts University!!! I always bragged that my sister was a smarty pants, but to earn her Masters while undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, steroids, and a bone marrow transplantation--she's a rock star!

I also just graduated with my Master of Science in Social Work and the day was bitter sweet.... She asked me not to return to California when she relapsed the last time because she said that it was motivation for her to get well fast and be cheering for me when I receive my diploma... This degree was so much for her and with her that it was difficult to accept it without her physically present--but when I heard my name called, I walked across the stage to cheers from our amazing Mother, Linda, Andres, Jamie and my friends... so yea, I was smiling from ear to ear and in those little moments, I guess she is there and I do feel her...

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Erica! Thank you for all your love and support, even now...


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Jaci. Thanks for sharing and for continuing to keep Erica's memory alive! How awesome to have received her Master's Degree for her.....but yet, bittersweet all the same. Blessings to you and your family. Loved the picture of you and your mom! And, congrats to you, too! P.S. I just realized that this day also marks the 6 month mark with Erica's passing.......

Jamie Murphy said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY E!!!! Oh how I wish we could have reached this awful milestone together. The dreaded 30th birthday. But knowing you, you would have been excited. Embracing 30 with with all the joy and energy that you embraced everything else in your life.

Like Jaci said, this day should have been filled with games, music, dancing, presents, and apple sauce cake. But I promise you, we will blow out a candle for you and I encourage others do the same.

Love you and miss you terribly!


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Erica! You're terribly missed!

Congrats, Jaci, on your Masters. I'm sure Erica is very proud.

Sandy said...

Happy Birthday, Erica-chan! I will be toasting you and your life today. Miss you!!!!

Congrats on the Masters, Jaci, and I'm so grateful for your post today :)

Jon said...

Happy Birthday Erica! And way to go Murray girls on getting the Master-zis... Master's... Masters's...On each receiving a higher educational degree.

Even though you're not here I will continue to celebrate your life and use your memory as inspiration in my daily life.

I miss you Beek...

Georg, Stephanie & Liam said...

You and your mom are radiant in your grad pic! It is always good to see updates about your life and how Erica still inspires you. How brave you were to walk knowing your sister wouldn't be there cheering you on, but you have all her supporters behind you! Peace love and prosperity to you!

With open arms,
WuCrew3 (soon to be 4)

Anonymous said...

Jaci, dear! Thank you so much for writing on the blog again. It's always good to read it.

I have been thinking about beautiful Erica today on her b-day. So a big FELIZ CUMPLEANHOS to her! Also congratulations to both of you on receiving your Masters! This is just so great! I know she is happy for you wherever she is.

Please say hello to your mom for me and congrats to her, too!

I'm sending you lots of love...


Susan on the road said...

thank you for sharing, jaci. have been thinking about you, your mom and erica since i read the post earlier today. sending you guys and kisses. and congratulations on your degree! xo, susan

Anonymous said...

Has it been six months? Wow. I miss my online correspondence with Erica. She was quite an inspiration to me and got me to write to her about my life in Iran. There is no way I could ever forget this courageous woman as she passed away on my wife's birthday.

Shortly after Erica died, my cat was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I decided to find a way to cure him, with Erica as my inspiration. Using proteolytic enzymes, he's feeling great now.

Dennis Pyritz, RN said...

Congratulations! My wife, Tish, is an MSW. Also...Open invitation to you and your readers to participate in the Being Cancer Book Club. This month we are discussing “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. “...the lecture he gave ... was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.”
Monday is Book Club day; Tuesday Guest Blog and Friday Cancer News Roundup.
Also check out Cancer Blog Links containing almost 200 blog links and Cancer Resources with 230 referenced sites, both divided into disease categories.
Please accept this invitation to join our growing cancer blogging community at
Take care, Dennis

Marcin said...

Congrats to you Jaci on graduating with your Masters! You earned it, and it must feel great to be done! The people you work with in your career will benefit not only from your education and smarts, but also from your incredible compassion, empathy, and kindness.

The more the merrier is right! Happy (slightly belated) Birthday Erica!

With love, Sara & Marcin

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I always knew your birthday because it's always 10 days before mine. So awesome for her to get her masters also.

congrats jaci on your accomplishments! you've earned it.

Anonymous said...

We celebrated as best we could without you, my dear.

Happy 30th.

Love Katie

Naomi said...

Thank you for sharing. Both sisters are rock stars! You, for the intelligence and compassion you needed to complete your Masters in Social Work, and Erica, for earning her Masters from Tufts through all her grueling procedures.

Happy Birthday Erica. I miss you.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Erica!

And congratulations, Jaci. THanks so much for posting. it must be very difficult, but I appreciate it, and I know many others do as well.

Thinking of you & your family...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your Masters, Jaci - that's a great achievement and I hope we'll hear what's coming next.
Erica is still in my thoughts.
Sending best wishes from Holland,

Samina said...

Think of Erica, Jaci and Judy every day. So much love and pride for the smiles and laughter to lessen the hole we all feel without E in our lives. Happy Independence Day Erica ....

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the Murray Sisters on earning their (respective) Master's-es! So very impressive.

Thank you Jaci for posting, and thanks yet again E for inspiring me....getting outta bed doesn't seem so hard when I realize you managed an advanced degree from Tuft's whilst dealing with all that crap!

big love. -gab

Colleen said...

I think of Erica often. Her and I were battleing leukemia at the same time and she brought my husband some peace from her strengh and will to live. while i was laying in a hospital bed sick, bald and thin and scared,
she was proof to him and to me that you could beat this thing, at least until the awful day she relasped. we both cried when Erica died. and i still click on the her blog page once in awhile. its a sad dark place for me to go to know but hope to visit those days less and less as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

Happy B-day Erica! I can read from all these posts that we are still so many going back to your blog once in a while - when we miss you or when some event in our life inspires us to check out your blog again to be 'closer' to you and to be reminded of all the wonder things you stand for! Your strength, your compassion, your wonderful personality.

Miss you - but thank you (again) for still inspiring us so much.

Jackie - CONGRATS!

- Camilla

Seun Adebiyi said...


Thank you for sharing this blog. I was diagnosed with stem cell leukemia last week, and am just starting down the road that Erica walked so bravely--searching for a donor for a bone marrow transplant. I am deeply sorry for your loss, and regret that I never met Erica. She is inspiring!

My email is and I also have a blog at I'd love to hear from you, but please don't feel pressured to respond. Thanks again for this gift,


Clif said...

Congratulations Jaci!
I'm glad to see you're still maintaining this blog.

Erica would have been so proud. I hope to see you this Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to blog. And congrats to you and your sis!