Some people come and go, some people try hard to remain in your life and some you just connect with right away. There are people that go an extra mile and really care that they touch your life.
We first met when Nickolas was 6 months old. I joined a mom and baby group through Healthy Babies/Healthy Children. It was a group of about 12 moms and babies, all between 6 weeks and 9 months. I didn't attend one of these groups with Katheryn but I wish that I did.
I was a little nervous at first about attending this group, I wanted to meet people, and not have spina bifida have anything to do with it. I wanted one thing in my life that had nothing to do with spina bifida, but was about having a little boy.
It's not like I hid it. In fact my diaper bag had a poem on it about being a special needs mom. After the group, a bunch of us decided to continue on to Tim Hortons and sit around and chat. One of the girls approached me and said that she noticed my bag. And we got talking.
That was how I met Andrea and her daughter.
We connected right away. We had a number of things in common, we both came from a health care background, (she was EMS), our kids were a month apart, we had similar interests and we could talk. Andrea always had fun ideas and things to do. And wanted to share.
Our friendship continued past the time we spent with the group. Along with about 6 of us who tried to get together regularly for walks, baby food making, aquafit, strollerfit, we even went to the kids first concert together!
We did things all the time when I was off on maternity leave. Baby or craft shows, classes, shopping, coffee, or just a play date. We even traded my formula for her diapers! It worked out great for both of us.
This picture was from day-long marathon making baby-food to share.
From personal experience we could talk about medical issues together and each of us could understand the struggle that the other experienced. We could talk to each other. Andrea came to our first SWWR walk with our family. She wanted to help, she donated and even raised money for the SB&H with us!
Andrea was always ready to go the extra step, to include everyone and to have fun doing it.
She helped to throw a 1 year party for the kids that we all born within a month of each other
If there was an event to host, she didn't hesitate to host it. It felt great that Nick was going to have friends his own age that are growing up with him, and accepting without question.
After I went back to work we didn't see each other that much. But she always sent me event emails, but I wasn't usually able to attend. On my to-do list, in the back of my mind, was that I wanted to reconnect.
Last month month Andrea was organizing an Easter party for the kids and families; and since I am no longer working weekends, I was actually able to go! It would provide an opportunity for us all to connect again. And of course talk about the kids starting school in the fall. (I actually fleetingly considered the public school so the 2 kids would be at the same school).
Last week Andrea sent out a message saying that she had to cancel the Easter party, but would move it to a spring fling in May, when her health was better.
I sent off a quick message saying that I couldn't wait to reconnect, to take care of herself and I will see her soon.
Unfortunately... No, so much more than unfortunately... Devastatingly, that is not going to happen.
I found out on Monday that Andrea passed away the night before (March 17). I sat in my office at work, stunned, before needing some human contact. The need to reach out to others without really wanting to go into details about why.
I cannot even imagine the pain that her family must feel. I know she would fight tooth and nail for her daughter, with every last breath and it breaks my heart that that was not enough. That her daughter, so close in age to Nickolas, will not be able to know her mother that touched my life for such a short time with her caring spirit.
The Andrea I knew loved her daughter more than anything. Every single thing she did was to make life better for her daughter. And it just isn't FAIR.
A lesson that I've learned from Andrea; get out there and do the fun things, look for experiences in the community, think of ways to include others and care about what is going on in your friends lives. And it is much more fun to do things with a friend.
Your children are the greatest thing you will ever do in your life. And never take life for granted.
I am so lucky that I knew you Andrea and I am devastated that I am not able to continue the friendship that started with a day at a baby group.
Rest in Peace my friend.