She requested a cup of ice.
A cup from Sonic, to be specific.
“A tall cup of crushed or chipped ice,” Stephanie wrote in a Facebook request on Oct. 23.
Tonight, this sweet lady is gone, and, like many, I am grappling with the certainty that nothing is guaranteed and that our tomorrows are never promised.
Stephanie and I worked together at The Dallas Morning News. We were Metro reporters when big city newspapers still cared about covering smaller stories about little people in suburban towns. Stephanie was smart and witty and one of the kindest people I have known. We socialized at work outings and met for dinner once in awhile, less in recent years as fate and industry layoffs took us to new jobs and different circles. We last ran into each other one night at a local department store, shopping for lingerie. We went to a nearby diner for a catch-up dinner.
In recent weeks, I had planned to take Stephanie and her roommate a meal. I had planned to pay her a long-postponed visit. She was going to talk to me about life insurance.
Today, I have been remembering Stephanie for her strength, courage and focused determination to battle a cruel and sneaky disease that ravaged her body. Cancer zapped her strength and forced this self-reliant, independent woman to ask for help from friends, old and new, for big things and small — like cups of ice on dreary evenings. Through Facebook posts, I watched Stephanie grow in her Faith and surround herself with many friends and her church family. These thoughtful and generous souls helped Stephanie so much these past several weeks.
Even during her fierce battle, Stephanie reached out, messaging and texting, asking about my health scares, offering encouragement as I care for my mom who suffers from late-stage Alzheimer’s. Stephanie offered ideas, information on treatments she had read about, support to make my caregiving duties a little easier.
I was caring for my mom the night Stephanie asked for that cup of ice. I couldn’t leave home to get the ice, and tonight, my selfish and burdened heart is weeping that I couldn’t fulfill this simple request. I am mad at myself — and at our inherent selfishness as busy and important human beings. In our busy-ness and chase, we keep ourselves from making the most of dwindling moments and missed chances. This lesson is a bitter pill, and I swallow the truth of my myopic — and sometimes misdirected — perspectives.
Through Stephanie’s journey, I realize that many things we fret about and worry over are so incredibly trivial when it comes to The BIG STUFF. I get flustered if someone cuts me off in traffic or when my work day has been tedious. I complain about minutia. Stephanie — the fighter — dealt with The BIG STUFF with grace and humility and faith.
Stephanie — the fighter, the crusader, the writer– shared her story and cancer battle publicly via social media to remind other women to take care of their bodies, to see their doctors, to not ignore abnormal symptoms. She reminded us to talk about our “Hoo-has” — and because of her — many of us did. I scheduled my mammogram and Well Woman visit because of Stephanie and her testimony, her not-so-gentle reminders, and her very public and rugged battle.
Through her frequent Facebook posts detailing her struggles, Stephanie reminded me to find beauty in each day, cherish my family and friends, and embrace life’s abundance and simple blessings. To Stephanie, a cup of ice — a tall cup of chipped or crushed ice — was a blessing that particular October evening. That cup of ice reminds me how many, many things we take for granted. Another friend delivered the ice to Stephanie that night. God has now delivered Steph from her earthly pain and suffering, and I take comfort knowing she is now at peace.
Yes, I have learned a lot about life and love, strength and courage from Stephanie these past months. Tonight, on the way home from taking my mom to another doctor’s appointment, I stopped at Sonic.
With a tall cup of crushed or chipped ice, tonight, I am thinking of Stephanie. Godspeed, my friend. I’m sorry, and I am grateful, and I thank you. You made a difference, Steph. Hoo-ha.