When I met Betsy, she had metastasized Pancreatic Cancer. I knew that was not good. So did she. So did her husband, who was always at her side. But she was young, and healthy. It was easy to hope that she would beat the cancer, somehow. She lived for two years after her diagnosis. For Pancreatic Cancer, that is considered a long time.
I never met Betsy before she was in treatment, but I knew her sister, had met her brother, and had heard of her husband. I also know her nephew and his wife -- I teach their children swimming.
As I got to know Betsy, I learned that she was one of the founders of Kad Va'Chomer, a brilliant store, where kids and adults can paint prepared pottery, and create beautiful ceramic pieces. Both my daughters have been to birthday parties there and came home with beautiful mugs and plates. (okay, just one plate, but I couldn't figure out how to phrase that....) When I met Betsy, she was still working there, once or twice a week.
I never got to know Betsy well. We exchanged pleasantries at the hospital, but rarely talked about what she was going through, at least not in much detail. To be honest, I did not want to know. I was afraid of what she might be experiencing.
She always looked great, even when she was not feeling so well. It was easy to decieve myself, to convince myself that she would be around for a while.
I do not know why I thought I would know if something bad was imminent. Maybe because we were being treated at the same place.
But you never really know what is going on with someone, unless they tell you.
A friend emailed me today, to let me know:
The Hakamat Matseva (Unveiling) in memory of Betsy Shapiro ז"ל, will take place this coming Friday, 2 Iyar 5770 (16.04.2010) at 9:30 AM, at Har HaMenuchot.
I did not know that she died.
I learned today that Betsy died just after Purim. I went back and searched my inbox; there was an email, notifying people of her passing, and containing details about her funeral, and the shiv'a.
She left behind 6 children, all young adults (2 young women and 4 young men). Six kids who are really too young to lose their mother. She will not be here to dance at their weddings, or celebrate the births of their children, or for any of the special occasions children like to share with their parents.
I did not know how to process the news of her passing.
We were not close. But I saw her and her husband at the hospital many times over these last two years.
I would have gone to the shiv'a.
Maybe it is better that I did not know. It would have been emotionally difficult for me to attend. But it would also have provided some sort of closure.
Her passing makes me very sad.
Besides blogging about it, I am not sure what else to do.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
When a Jew Dies Far from Home
11 hours ago