A cup of ice and The Hoo-ha


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.



About barriepagehill

A former print and broadcast reporter, I am blogging to document my experience as primary caregiver to my mom, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. I find writing cathartic and find it helps me order some of the chaos of my cluttered life. My writing is reflective of my experiences with my mom and matters I find important as I navigate the New Normal of living with a family member tormented by this devastating disease. As my mom's condition worsens, I am grateful for the many blessings in my life. I hope my writing chronicles some of our experiences and documents this bittersweet journey.
This entry was posted in cancer loss, chemotherapy, death and loss, fight like a girl, fighting cancer, helping a friend who has cancer, losing a friend to cancer, losing a friend, death and loss, cancer, fighting cancer, uterine cancer, losing a friend to cancer, taking life for granted, death and dying, fighting cancer, well woman visits, cancer symptoms, Uncategorized, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A cup of ice and The Hoo-ha

  1. Rene says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Soo eloquently said. You expressed exactly how I’m feeling, but could not articulate. I was scheduled to see her the day after she passed. I’m heartbroken it wasn’t the day before. She too was a constant inspiration with her unwavering faith in the Lord during all her struggles. She to preach to me about going to the doctor over symptoms I was having. And I did just as she said and went to the doctor. Even in her own struggles she worried about others. She will forever be in my heart and soul and I will miss her deeply. RIP my beautiful friend.

  2. karyn says:

    Thank you… You are S P O T on! She was an amazing woman.

    I’ve known Stephanie for 5 years now. Her nickname was “Shiner” in our group of friends, that name due to Stephanie enjoying a “Shiner” brew here and there. What I’ve realized is it had nothing to do with the beer at all…Stephanie was just full of light everything she touched shined brighter. She defintely had the perfect nickname! Now, everyday when the sun shines… I will think and see her face, her smile… shining bright & beautifully from above filling us with her warmth and love.

    Thank you again….for writing such an amazing blog about an amazing woman!

  3. Michael Wiggins says:

    “Coulda”, “woulda”, “shoulda”…
    A simple and now last request from a dearest friend goes unfullfilled.
    This now tugs at your heart.
    Nice job Barrie; thanks for sharing.
    …”we commit her body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

  4. James C. says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Stephanie sounds like she was an amazing person. Hearing stories of loss is a constant reminder for us to cherish each moment and to make time for our family and friends. We are truly blessed to have some very special people (angels, to be exact) in our lives. I strongly believe we will see them all again after this life.

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