My friend and coworker Betsy Rupe died last night after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she was battling cancer for the first year and a half, and simply refused to die for a year after the doctors told her the cancer had won.
Six weeks ago, Betsy wrote this in her online journal: "It seems that Mom was a bit optimistic in promising an update. I'm sorry if that's worried anyone." She went on to describe a rough week recovering from her latest surgery, and then went on from there to describe how pleased she had been to spend Thanksgiving with her family, and how much she had to be thankful for.
That's the kind of person Betsy was. Having been terminal for almost a year, with death now staring her very plainly in the face, her first concern was still for the people around her. She felt bad that her lag in communicating might have caused anyone to be anxious. So she rectified the situation by bringing us up to date on her surgery, and how they'd tunneled through her jugular as part of it -- and then she made sure to close by letting us all know how blessed and lucky she felt.
I was glad to see that her mother, in posting the awful but entirely expected news, said that Betsy had died, not that she had "passed." I'm pretty sure that no matter how peacefully Betsy went, she did not "pass," but was taken from us. If she managed to avoid kicking and screaming at the time, it was because she did not want to traumatize those who were present.
My life is a greater thing for having included her. I hope that when my own end comes, I can provide even half the example of strength and courage that she did.
Safe travels, Betsy. If there is anything beyond this life, I know that right now you are exploring it with eyes full of wonder, an intellect as great as any I ever encountered, and a heart of compassion.