Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Life Well-lived.

The inevitable has happened.  Seven years after her initial diagnosis, Lesley Osmond has succumbed to breast cancer. 

On Saturday, four days before her 47th birthday, Lesley died at home, surrounded by her family.  The injustice of a daughter pre-deceasing her parents, of children left motherless, of a man loosing his best friend and life-mate, of a talent and unique power to move things forward being wiped out, is staggering.  The pain of dwelling on the horrible loss is just too great and so we focus on the joys she gave us, the good times, the happy memories and the strong foundation she left for those who will follow her.

Almost as if she knew from the very beginning of her life journey that time would be measured, Lesley lived large.  She packed it all in.  Her life was lived fully, with no regrets.  Strong in body and mind, Lesley was the backbone of everything she was involved in.  She has left an enormous gaping hole that once was filled to overflowing.

Involved in sports from elementary school onward, Lesley played hard to win and coached teams of others to do the same both in England and in Canada.  Less than one year ago, she was the first female to cross the finish line of the 50 Km. fund-raising bike ride to raise funds for the new cancer center being built in our community.  She became the face of the campaign, posted in newspapers, magazines, in bus stop kiosks and in homes throughout our community.

Trained in England, and later working in Canada as a physiotherapist, Lesley brought her compassion and no-nonsense approach as needed to those she ministered to.  Stories are legion of her healing care for others, of her going the extra mile to make sure she left no stone unturned looking for just the right therapy, tool, or special something that would facilitate healing.  Her young special needs clients loved her, and so did their beleaguered parents.

Lesley was a founding member of her Book Club, the Squash Team, the Gourmet Club, and the Gang of workmates, many of whom also came from England.  She was the vanguard.

Varied people from around the world call Lesley Friend.  Having traveled widely, and being a social magnet, she made friends everywhere.  She was a true and loyal friend to so many.  Jill will be attending the funeral all the way from Ottawa, where she now works.  She and Lesley have been friends since they were 4 years old back in Nottingham, England.  Throughout her illness, Lesley selflessly focused on the needs of others around her, never bemoaning her plight.  Always brassy and bold, she maintained an avid interest in whatever was going on, and over time softened and sweetened more and more, eagerly seeking ways to encourage and affirm her friends.

Lesley's most cherished role in life was that of Wife and Mother.  She sheltered her family from the horrors she faced as her disease progressed.  Even when it was difficult for her to do so, she worked hard to build memories for the family.  She wanted her boys to know (not too soon, but not too late) that she was going to die.  She hoped that they would be able to process and face the facts and still be able to talk with her.  She got her wish.

During her final hours, her sons were constantly by her side, cradling her head, stroking her arms, and kissing her face.  The youngest pushed her hospital bed to abut the house bed and then laid beside her until the very end.  Those were precious moments and the seeds of healing for all of us, even before the final goodbye.  

 The next time you are offered a daffodil in April, or a chance to walk/run/bike to support Cancer Research, think of Lesley and the millions like her that are waiting for a cure.  One day, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and it will be because of the tireless efforts to make it so by many dedicated thousands, sharing and building to make the dream a reality.

Thank you, my blogging family, for sharing this milestone with me.  It is amazingly therapeutic to have a sounding board that will listen with an open heart. 
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