I’m not well travelled internationally, but I have been to a few places. One of those places was Romania. I was there working with orphans with my old church, and it was a transformative time in my life. It was a long, long time ago, but the connection I feel towards the country, it’s people, and my memories there, are deep.
Several years after that trip, I was working in Orange County and as my company started to experience some rough patches, I found myself working part time at a local restaurant/bar. It was there that I heard the accent that I loved so much, from behind the bar, and out of the mouth of one of the best people I met while working there. We worked the “slow shifts” together, typically Saturday lunch and a few lunch shifts during the week, but Saturdays were our days to be buddies, since it was so slow.
Andreea was a beautiful person, inside and out. Her laugh was contagious. She was an amazing person, always kind hearted and yet sarcastic and funny. We talked about everything from food, to her country, to religion, to fashion in Paris (which I knew nothing of at the time), to relationships, to so many other things, I can’t even remember. She was one of those people who liked to “get in there” and wanted to know more about how people think and what motivates them to be a better person. She was a “deep friend” not a surface level, “oh that’s cool” kind of friend. She was in my head every time I saw her and we got in trouble ALL THE TIME for hanging out more than doing side work. She was the only person I could say the few phrases I remembered in Romanian to, and she would sometimes just speak Romanian to me, mostly when she wanted to give me a hard time, was in a funky mood, or just wanted to see me confused. I loved her.
Like all friendships that happen in a specific location and have an attachment to a specific situation, when I moved away, we lost touch. I thought about her often, but didn’t do a good job at staying connected. I had moved across the country, gotten engaged, was planning a wedding and was just self-absorbed. I looked for her on FB, but didn’t find her. Then one day, a friend of ours (also from the restaurant) posted a picture of his shaved head… and hers.
Clearly, she had cancer.
I emailed him immediately. He reconnected me to her current contact information and I called her right away.
She and I reconnected. She was doing ok. She was on the up and up. Later, she was in remission. I was pregnant with my first child and though I wanted to go see her, I thought I would have time after the baby was born (as all new moms think) and I was proven wrong. New babies take everything out of you and when you have limited time before returning to work, you prioritize the immediate and literally leave everything else behind. I did that.
Little did I know that today, I would find out that my sweet girl passed away yesterday, losing the fight to the brutality that is breast cancer. Apparently, she was ok, or so everyone thought. Last week, she was hospitalized and yesterday passed. I’m not sure what happened, or why her kidneys/liver failed so suddenly, but she’s gone. Just like that.
I’m heart broken at the loss of her, but am angry with myself for not being a better friend. Last night, I realized that it was my fault for not staying connected to her. I’m the one who moved, who promised to visit, and while I wasn’t ill-willed at all, I was also a bad friend.
I guess this is all to say, that it’s an important lesson learned, though it’s also too late to fix.
Andreea, I love you. Always have, always will. I know you’re with your angels. Rest in sweet peace, my friend.