This is the 6th anniversary of the very last day I spent with my friend Lisa Dungan.

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Lisa and I met because I worked with her husband at the time. We went to a work party, and I remember literally backing into a wall as she approached with this swooping confident stride and a devilish smile and a shot in each hand. Yes, I was “the Laura”, yes I would take a shot with her… and we were instantly friends. For anyone who ever knew Lisa, she was a force. A thunderstorm rolling in, beautiful, intimidating, not one ounce of inhibition. Nothing scared her. She caught rattlesnakes in her yard, she loved walking in the desert at night (clothing optional), she enchanted people into staying by her – when she was around she was in complete control and things were going to get interesting. I spent the better part of ten years with her, as her best friend, as her fellow amazon chick when we went out on the town, and as her roommate and ‘little sister’ for a time being. I watched her life unfold through lake trips and dog walks, we tried to enter “The Amazing Race” together – she DID enter a video for her favorite show “Survivor” – she pranked everyone each and every April Fools – she perped a high speed car chase (I drove) that I will never forget. She was an instigator. She was difficult, raging power. She was unstoppable.

And so, on this day in 2009 as I sat on her bed with her – she so thin from the chemo, she so dark skinned from the liver cancer, she with no makeup on and yet so beautiful – her vulnerability shocked me. We hugged, I cried, she couldn’t cry anymore. I said I didn’t want her to go, and told her I loved her. I believed I could come back over the next day and say it again and again and again, as I had every day since she threw a ridiculous party and drank red wine and played “Only the Good Die Young” to announce she was given 2 years to live. She lived 10 months. Ten months where we fought desperately to get her into the Mayo Clinic or MD Anderson – but they didn’t take people who did not have insurance and she lost her job a month before diagnosis (so do not ask me again why I fought for healthcare). Ten months where we wrote to the Ellen show, we sent her to Hawaii to swim with dolphins, we filled days with bucket list things that a 41 year old doesn’t usually have to write down. Ten months of nights when she was scared and I would leave my house at midnight to stay with her. Ten months from diagnosis to the morning I lifted her purple pedicured, lithe body onto a stretcher to be taken for donation to cancer research- this strange honor I found in being her only pallbearer.

There has been no event in my life that shook me like that day.

It sharply changed the direction of my winding, ridiculous road. Which is exactly what she would’ve wanted it to do for me. The strange thing about the death of my best friend is the amount of joy I have in the memories. She was such an inspiration in how she lived her 41 years on this earth that I have little sorrow when I think of her. Just the missing. I hate missing Lisa. She would love my little boy. She would love my move to Boston. She would love all the fabulous weddings and birthdays and babies and … life that happened after she left. So I hate the missing. But I am honored that she taught me what is really important, and to hold on to the beauty of life.

❤  Thank you for being my lesson. ‪#‎TheFacebookProject‬

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