I lost a very dear friend on Monday. Someone so special that even as she knew she was dying sent me a note to make sure I was okay on Callum’s birthday on Saturday.
Here is what she wrote:
I know this weekend is being celebrated as it should be remembering one amazing young man. Life is unfair by times and there is nothing we can do to change it, darn it. I hope through your tears of sorrow that you will have some smiles of joy remembering how he would punch you in the arm and all of his Callum’isms. Moving forward through your tears I wish for you this birthday brings a small piece of peace. Talk to him because he is listening, he will never leave his Mommy.
Love and Hugs, Marlene
That is what she was like. Her last words were to thank me for everything over the many years. I only realize now that she was saying good-bye.
She passed away on Monday after more than a decade after first being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was famous for leading the warm-up at the Run for the Cure events on P.E.I. every year. Her spirit and enthusiasm were epic.
We became friends a long time ago, after I did a story for CBC about her return to teach her aqua fitness classes at the old Y in Charlottetown after her first bout with cancer.
When she moved to the CARI pool, I started going to the early morning classes. We would often talk at pool side, long after the class ended. We became friends.
The cancer came back. Marlene did chemo again. And she was back on the pool deck.
She was an advocate for cancer care and for the QEH. And an inspiration.
Callum and Tristan and I became regulars at the Run for the Cure because of Marlene.
When Callum was diagnosed, Marlene was there with us every step of the way. The two of them had a connection beyond what any of us could understand.
On the first anniversary of Callum’s death, Marlene and her husband David invited me to their house. They were the only people in the world that I could imagine spending that day with, other than my family, who weren’t on P.E.I. That is how much Marlene and David meant to me. I could cry, I could remember. I could talk about Callum.
Every year since then, that is how I have spent that day. They were my rocks.
Marlene was also the one who inspired the messages on the beach every year on the Ottawa River for Callum’s birthday.
And now, how I will miss her.
I want to share what she wrote after our last visit, on April 9, 2017. Another gift from her, along with her last words to me: Love you and thank you for everything over the many years! Love, Marlene
Thank you so much for the beautiful plant and mostly sharing part of your day with us. You once talked about broken glass how the edges cut, hurt deeply. Only through time do the edges lose their sharpness, the glass is still broken, can never be fixed. We who loved and knew Callum will never ever forget him, but you and Tristan will feel always feel the hurt.
Four years later I am grateful to still be alive to share this day with you and moving forward I want more. We all want more, human nature we always want more of what we love. Callum lived life large, as his Mom you made sure he did get an awesome life, he was loved and he was special.
So glad to hear that Tristan is doing well, that life is unfolding in a positive direction for him, for you. I know Callum is proud of you both.
May love, family, friends and Callum help guide you through the broken glass.
Love you too my friend. I already miss you so much. But will never forget you.