We lost a good friend a few weeks ago and it’s taken me some time to gather my thoughts so I could honor her memory properly.
Paula discovered she had an inoperable cancer fourteen years ago, but she did not let it stop her from enjoying life to the fullest extent possible. She was always the life of any party and I never heard ask for sympathy or complain about her lot in life.
She was a fount of knowledge about a lot of subjects, but unlike others in poor health, her illness was not her primary topic of conversation. In fact, as I recall, she rarely spoke of it unless someone asked about her current treatment.
She and her husband John never stopped looking for a possible cure. John was devoted to her and supported her in every way he could. He taught himself to use the internet and researched every cancer specialist and experimental treatment available. Year after year, Paula underwent treatments that often left her sick and weakened, but she never gave up.
She made the most of the time she had, because she lived enough for two people. She worked full-time at a hospital until shortly before she died. She was an avid collector of dolls, Beanie Babies, and other collectables and spent time chasing down special opportunities.
She loved fishing offshore for salmon and went out whenever she could, even in inclement weather. I remember a time when walking to the mailbox would leave her gasping for breath, yet she would still go on all-day fishing excursions off the coasts of San Francisco, Alaska or British Colombia.
She set an example of courageous living for all of us. As the end drew near and it became evident to all of us that her body was failing, she was still a gracious hostess when we visited her. Her attention was on her guests rather than upon herself.
She is gone now, off to new adventures in a different realm, but her memory still lives on. Our lives are richer for knowing her.
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