It’s been three years. I’ve been told that it takes one full year to fully grieve for a loved one; one full year of missed birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries of their life and death. Yet three years later, Gaelle’s absence in my life is a constant presence.
It’s funny how you can still have so much left to say to someone after their death. Things that you never said, but wished you had. Things you said, and wished you could take back. Gaelle and I spoke often, went to dinners that could stretch the length of an entire evening, and could have a detailed conversation about absolutely nothing. Yet, we never ran out of topics to cover.
But it’s the little things that I never got the chance to ask her about that still haunt me. The unfinished conversations that you know you can never have with someone, and the topics that you will need to explore on your own. Gaelle was more than a friend to me; she was also my mentor. My strongest supporter in my weakest moments and my cheerleader on my darkest days. Her optimism always gave me hope and her strength and resilience rubbed off on everyone she met.
She was one of the first people I called when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I knew not only that she would she be a sympathetic ear, but that she would immediately suggest we go to dinner at our favorite pizzeria. And she did. We talked the night away and for a few hours, I had completely forgotten about the devastating news I received earlier in the day.
Gaelle’s most often used phrase when I would tell her about something I thought was the end of the world was “it is what it is,” a line that both infuriated and satisfied me (and one that I now have adopted). In life’s most challenging moments, when I can no longer call Gaelle for her wisdom and I feel my anxiety rising, I can still hear her saying those five little words and somehow it makes it all better.
So why do I choose to commemorate her birthday (which would have been today, by the way)? Because it is a reminder that despite hardships, sacrifices, and difficult times, life is meant to be lived to the fullest. None of us know how long we have on this Earth, and to me, Gaelle’s legacy is that of a life well lived.
Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Woo Hoo…what a ride!'” And that’s how Gaelle lived her life.