How to Be a Badass

There’s nothing that can ever adequately prepare your heart and mind to lose someone you love. Absolutely nothing. Not that I needed to be reminded of that, but that point was unexpectedly driven home earlier this week. My brave, sassy, beautiful, and funny friend, Kristene, died after a ten year battle with colorectal cancer. Even seeing that in writing, I still cannot believe she is gone.

From the start, Kristene came out swinging and fought valiantly, like a heavyweight fighter who refuses to go down for the count against a more formidable opponent. She defied the odds so many times that when she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit last month, I was really worried, but I comforted myself with thoughts of, Kristene is a badass. She will overcome this. This time, though, was different. Tragically different.

Despite knowing that Kristene was living with a terminal disease, I still felt sucker punched when I learned that she had died. My head knew that this day would come, but it never fully accepted it. My heart definitely was having none of it. I now find myself awash in tears, jumbled thoughts and emotions, and memories of my badass friend.

Some words are often misused when describing someone. Words like brave, hero, courageous, and fighter. In this case, though, all of those words, and many more, are appropriate descriptions of Kristene, but the word I associate most with her is badass.

Kristene was, is, and always will be a badass, and how she lived her life, imperfectly, fully, and authentically, provided a blueprint for how to be a badass.

1. Be unapologetically yourself. Kristene embodied the description of what you see is what you get. In a world that prefers filters, facades, and only letting others see your highlight reel, Kristene showed up as herself and everything that encompassed. She did not allow this disease to define her, and she remained true to herself. At her core, she was the same person I met when our paths first crossed when we were teenagers.

2. Have a sense of humor. Cancer is definitely not funny, yet Kristene found the humor in it. Some of the memories that I cherish the most are the calls, texts, and visits with Kristene and our mutual friend, Jennifer, another badass. All three of us found ourselves in the cancer club, albeit different parts of the club. Jennifer was diagnosed with lymphoma, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The three of us shared an irreverent sense of humor, which was the best medicine for all of us. We prided ourselves on having a sick sense of humor, literally and figuratively! I will miss Kristene’s smile, the sound of her laughter, and her hysterical comments.

3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Kristene displayed so much courage in so many ways, but especially when she was vulnerable. During a phone call with Jennifer and me, she shared that the cancer was now Stage IV. As her words hung in the air, we all quietly cried, until Kristene broke the silence by saying, I’m scared. I was scared for her and wanted to take away her fear, but I was so grateful that she could be vulnerable with us in that moment. Every time I saw her vulnerability, I also saw her extraordinary strength. She was afraid, but did it anyway.

4. Don’t just survive, thrive. Kristene made the absolute most of every day, and she refused to allow cancer to stop her. She attended her kids’ school and athletic events. She did some traveling and even planned a trip to the beach for her birthday next month. She visited an elephant sanctuary. She celebrated graduations, anniversaries, her oldest daughter’s wedding, and the arrival of her triplet grandsons. This is in addition to working, until she could no longer do so. Kristene lived her best life under the worst conditions.

5. Show up for others. Kristene had so much love to give to her family and her friends. It would have been understandable had she withdrawn or lost patience with others and their every day problems, but she didn’t. When she asked how you were doing or what was going on in your life, it was not just to make small talk, she really wanted to know. She fought so hard to be here for all of us who love her, especially her family. Kristene kept showing up, and we all are so very grateful she did.

These are just some of the thoughts swirling around in my head, as I grapple with the loss of this beautiful, bright badass. I take some solace in knowing that for the first time in a decade, Kristene is free of pain, procedures, treatment, medication, and cancer. Finally. I just wish she could have been free while still here. While she is physically absent, I know that she is still here with all of us. In our hearts. In our memories. In her children and grandchildren. In every single life she touched. Love never dies, and neither does a badass.

That’s another story. . .

Categories: That's Another Story

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8 replies

  1. Beautiful. Thank you. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your heartfelt words. What a beautiful tribute to Kristene.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful description of our badass Kristene. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This post touched me. I lost my wife of 57 years two years ago, There is so much of her in your words. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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