34 and looking fine
She'd had so much pain in her life, genuinely bad things and those were before the first bout with cancer. Sometimes you meet someone with so many hurts you have to help, you don't have a choice. I couldn't help but reach out to her as a friend and as someone who would stand by her, not hurt her, and not abandon her. In truth, she was pretty dysfunctional and often shut out those who reached out to her and more than one boyfriend gave up in exasperation. Being her friend took a fair amount of work and plenty of people gave up on her. I wasn't always glad when she called but we don't give up on friends in need.
She had a hard time believing that anyone could actually care about her and not want something in return. But I'm a sucker for lost causes and I felt God wanted me to do what I could for her so I was always there and ready to chat or e-mail or talk. I believe I was the one who talked her into trying chemotherapy one more time. It was either that or she would die anyway, and soon.
I wanted to go see her when she was recovering from her first bout with cancer but she wouldn't permit it. She'd gone from 130lbs to 85lbs and didn't want anyone to see what cancer had done to her. She never managed to get above 87lbs before the cancer struck again a year later.
She used to call me from California and ask me to tell her stories about how we'd ride together someday when she was healthy and could buy another bike to replace her Honda. Naturally I recommended an Aprilia but she thought the Ducati Monster would be more to her liking. So she'd call and I'd tell her stories about riding around the Southwest and the stuff we'd see and do on our bikes -- vagabond stories, not romantic sunset stories. She told me often that nothing let her escape the cares of life more than riding her motorcycle.
After I would go out for rides I'd send her little notes and a picture so the daydreams would seem more real and she might try a little harder to get better. In truth, she only wanted to give up trying; she was so tired. I wanted to tell her it was ok to give up and I couldn't.
I grew very attached to her and her screwed up self. More than I'd realized. I don't usually let myself do things like that.
I'm frankly amazed that I'm taking this so hard. I didn't shed a tear when my father died and I loved my dad. But he was old and had lived his life and enjoyed success in all the truly important things.
I was never in love her or her with me, we just grew close in some mysterious way that I don't really understand. I hope I made her messed up life just a bit better for a few minutes sometimes. At least now she is in Heaven and the pain and the hurt are forgotten. I'm having trouble finding much comfort in that for myself though. She was just 36.