Not the golden, flying creatures with wings – but people, whom change your life in such a way that the title “Angel” is fitting. It has taken me years to realize how much one person can affect my life and the sad part is I will never be able to thank her (in this life at least).
I moved two hours away from home to attend college after high school. It was a few years later that I heard my friend Erika had leukemia. We had grown apart as time passed, living in different towns, however I still considered her a close friend. You know, the type you can see after two years and you feel like you jump back in right where you left off? We were so young and the fact that leukemia might take her from us never crossed my mind. She was kind-hearted, athletic and funny. I always looked up to her because she had a wonderful, positive spirit. I always said that I would visit her one of these days and had no doubt she would get better.
When I learned a few weeks later that she had passed I was devastated. The funeral was on my final exam day and I would fail my classes if I missed them. I felt so guilty and upset with myself that I had missed the opportunity to say goodbye. At that time in my life I was also not happy for other reasons. A “going nowhere” relationship, stress from school and work had taken their toll and I had let myself go. Looking back, I was really miserable. This was the icing on the cake.
Shortly after Erika’s passing I heard about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As a team member, you train to run a marathon and raise money towards research for a cure. Although I had never run more than a few blocks, I felt compelled to attend an informational meeting. When I thought of Erika and her athletic abilities and determination I knew I had to participate. I would never feel better about neglecting this special friendship; the least I could do was keep her memory alive and help others fight Leukemia.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I loathed running, but every time I forced myself out the door, I remembered the reason behind my commitment and it kept me moving. The Society has a great team in place to help train and teach running techniques, nutrition, etc. We had fundraising events and for the months I trained and the other team members and runners became my family. We all shared a common goal and their stories were inspiring. When the marathon was complete, I realized I actually enjoyed running – it was meditative and refreshing. I shed over 30 pounds and gained a confidence I never knew I had. Eating healthy gave me more energy and the structure of training infused me with a discipline and work ethic I still have today.
When I think of my friend – more than anything I wish Erika was still here. I don’t understand why things happen to good people, but I am forever grateful that she was in my life. Angels are those people that change your life completely, without you even knowing it. Then one day, years later, you look back and realize how much this one person has made an impact. It could be a teacher, a friend, someone you see every day or someone who has passed – for me it was Erika.
Do you have an Angel in your life? Today I urge you to take the time to tell the people that have made a difference in your life how much they mean to you.