My first friend to die died yesterday. Her name was Elizabeth Lodowski and she was as complex as her name is to say. I met this curly haired wonder my first day at Laity Lodge Youth Camp, a place that would change the rest of my life. She was my top bunk mate and I’d never met anyone like her.
I wrote a little about her here, as she was also my first interview when I took the LLYC Alumni blogger job just after my son was born. Note the laces in the article and know that she brought my baby son a tiny pair of these leather beauties, which are now the only piece of her artwork I own. I will always treasure those.
At the time, I was interviewing her about her success with a new artistic group, but really I wanted to know about the cancer. I wanted her to tell me how she was really doing. And she did. Sort of. She said everyone should read the book:
And she was obsessed with positivity. She refused to let a single negative thought into her head, for that was death for sure. And she was so good at the positivity. She really did it.
How can someone be good at everything? I’ll never understand this, but Elo was one of those people. People wanted her on their cycling and ultimate Frisbee teams, on their records as a back-up voice, and on their side in life. Her unique and exquisite art hangs on many walls, while her impression is left on so many souls. I was honestly always a tad jealous of her because she seemed to have it all; a living wonder who pondered the eternal, yet set trends on Earth. AND she wasn’t worried about her weight or body obsessed (probably my favorite thing about her). She was full of life and always up for anything.
So of course she was up for a turkey trot when I had an extra race bib. I love the picture below. When she was taking a break from treatments a few years back, she ran with Elaine and me. I’m glad I have this shot of us 20 years after we met. I will frame it.
Even between hospital visits in the end, she was doing races. Our last conversation was at Contigo for our LLYC Alumni happy hour a few months back. It was early fall and she looked frail, but with gusto asked, “So, are you going to do the Livestrong this year?” I’m not a cyclist, so to me she was asking if I was going to run in the marathon or the half come February. If you are reading this, you know my journey with running and my feet. I was just getting back into the sport when she asked and I replied, “I don’t know. I’m running again, but we will see how my feet are doing come 2016.”
She said, “Oh, no, I mean cycling. Next month.”
“Oh,” I said, shaking my head. I don’t even own a road bike. “I’m not.” Doubtful, but curious, I asked, “Why? Are you?”
“Yep!” she said, her piercing blue eyes beaming life. “I mean I probably won’t make it very far, but I’m going to do it.”
And that was Elizabeth. She was a fighter. Right to the end. And I think that’s why she went so fast. She fought hard and long, so it’s no surprise that she left us the same day she went home under hospice.
I was able to write her a private message on Facebook before she died, but it still sits unread. I told her what she meant to me and that I will be doing the marathon in three weeks after all – in her honor! She fought hard, but I don’t think she lost. Ultimately, Elizabeth lived strong and now she will live forever with Our Lord and have pain no more.