|A fading rainbow reminds me of Lynn|
On November 11, 1989, my friend, Lynn O'Connell died. She was 42. Lynn and I became friends because we were two women in a male-dominated workplace. We were customer service representatives in a highly technical financial consulting firm. Lynn had a quick wit, a razor tongue and a real zest for life. She made me laugh whenever we were together -- at work, at yoga, at her house. Whenever Lynne was nearby, her good-hearted spirit touched me. It was criminal that her cancer went untreated by her HMO for three years proceeding her diagnosis. Finally, a doctor in the practice agreed to her demand for a mammogram despite having reservations because “she was too young for breast cancer." By the time she had the mammogram, the cancer had spread. The biopsies showed lymph node involvement. Lynn was not interested in litigation against the HMO; instead, she fought for care at Dana Farber in Boston. She was far too busy for anything but driving to Boston and back for radiation therapy. She was robotic in her determination to keep going. She worked while heaving her insides out from the chemotherapy. Lynn's motivation was her daughter. Her adolescent daughter was often impatient with her; she wanted a mother who was not sick, a mother who was not on a first name basis with a funeral home director. Lynn’s daughter started acting out in ways unexpected and worrying. As hurtful as the behaviors were, Lynn had extraordinary patience and understanding. Perhaps a counterbalance to those difficulties was Lynn’s ex-husband. When she was too ill to be left alone, he offered that Lynn come live with him. They divorced after a twenty year marriage, but reunited during the last year of her cancer. I was proud to be Lynn’s friend. She taught me grace and humor and what it means to be brave. She wore her wig with pride. Lynn threw herself a 40th birthday party at the Lord Jeffrey Inn in Amherst, MA. The party was unusually lavish compared to most of my friends' birthday celebrations, but she had a lot to celebrate. She was in remission for two years. When the remission was over, the end came quickly. During Lynn’s last weeks, I was by her hospital bed every morning and every night. It was hard to say goodbye, but when her time came, I was relieved to let her go. Her suffering had finally ended.
I carry with me memories of our friendship’s glory days. As the years roll by, the edges of those memories grow translucent and fade -- just like the refracted light of an ebbing rainbow.