keep her in your heart for awhile

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Early yesterday morning I received some devastating news: a beloved friend lost her battle with cancer. I thought of her randomly just the day before and how awful it was that I hadn’t spoken to her in some time. I heard through the grapevine that she wasn’t doing too well and I was beginning to feel guilty for not checking in on her. I am so very sad that I was never given that chance; that we didn’t go out for margaritas like we had intended or lunch when she was back on her feet again.

I won’t take up space here for clichés about missed opportunities and having regrets in life (though this will certainly be one of them for me), but I do hope you’ll allow me the chance to discuss a very special woman I met about six years ago.

I was initially drawn to Raffaela* because of her confidence, sense of humor, and no nonsense attitude. I was envious that she was able to say with ease what I struggled to convey. She had very comfortably settled into her skin and was as healthy and active as any of the 20-year-olds who were just out of college and vying for jobs in the businesses of Manhattan. Raffaela had one of the most stunning physiques I had ever seen on a woman.

We instantly became friends. She would text me during American Idol and we would gush about our favorites the day after around the water cooler. She listened earnestly and gave sage, nonjudgmental advice. Some of my favorite moments were the quiet times when we opened up to each other about love, life, and the meaning of it all.

I remember how incredibly supportive she was whenever I spoke to her about my writing. She convinced me that anything was possible if I set my intention. Raffaela had an infectious personality. She was always smiling, shaking her mane of long, beautiful hair, and always on the go. She was a typical and proud New Yorker, born and raised. The energy of the city coursed through her veins and she was my go-to when I needed suggestions for a date or a night out with friends.

I’ll never forget how she tore up the dance floor at my friend’s wedding and how much she loved to talk about music. In one of our last conversations, she asked me about a Jackson Browne concert I had attended at the Beacon. I could talk to her about music for hours.

Raffaela, your time here was far too short; your impression on my heart too big for words. I hope you are now at peace, and dancing and flirting with all the handsome men in sight. Your presence will sorely be missed.

Love always,


*I hope she gets a kick out of the name I’ve given her in my blog. She always had an interest in the art, foods, culture, and men of Italy, so I wanted to give her a strong Italian name that suited her.

Flower meadow in Llano, Texas

I close with lyrics to “Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile,” a beautiful song written by another sweet soul gone much too soon, Warren Zevon.

Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile
When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile
There’s a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Sometimes when you’re doing simple things
around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile
You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on
your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you
Engine driver’s headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for awhile
These wheels keep turning but they’re running out
of steam
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Keep me in your heart for awhile

19 Comments… add one
Nicole February 21, 2013, 9:25 AM

Awww, bunny. I am so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your friend. May she be at peace. xoxo

Jester Queen February 21, 2013, 9:32 AM

I’m so sorry for your loss. Any age is too young to die of cancer, but this is particularly poignant.

Lillian February 21, 2013, 10:26 AM

I’m so sorry, Schmee 🙁 I am sure that wherever she is, she is touched by your kind words. xoxoxo

Kath Galasso (@KatsTheory) February 21, 2013, 11:06 AM

Losing someone whose life has touched you is never easy. It becomes even harder when you think you might have failed them in some way. I have a friend who went through very much what you are now feeling. It’s been over a year since I wrote it, but the link below might have a few words which might offer some comfort. Friends may leave, memories of them never do.

beth February 21, 2013, 11:28 AM

i am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your friend.

Emily February 21, 2013, 12:41 PM

This is making me cry :(. So sorry, Charlotte. xoxox

Krysten February 21, 2013, 4:04 PM

*hugs* I am so sorry for your loss Charlotte. I feel like loss has been going around lately and it’s just not right.

Keeping you, your friend and her friends and loved ones in my thoughts.

Kelley February 21, 2013, 4:40 PM

I am so sorry for your loss, Charlotte. It’s so unfair. That stupid C word. I’m having my head shaved bald in March for St. Baldrick’s foundation. They raise money to fund pediatric cancer research. It’s my second time shaving, and I’ve found that it’s been a wonderful healing process for me. Not saying that’s what you should do – writing is a great healing tool as well. I’m just terrible at writing. Sending big internet hugs and healing thoughts your way!

Single Mom in the South February 22, 2013, 7:04 AM

A beautiful tribute to a special person. I’m sorry for your loss, my friend.

trininista February 22, 2013, 8:05 AM

So very sorry, Charlotte. She sounds like she was an amazing person. It is so sad that we often have to endure such loss to be reminded how amazing this gift of life really is. My prayers to her family and loved ones, including you. (hugs)

Gia February 22, 2013, 10:00 AM

Thinking of you during this time. I’m so sorry to read about this but you wrote such a beautiful tribute. I’m sure, from somewhere, she appreciates your kind words and knows what was in your heart. ::hugs:: XOXO

Tamara February 22, 2013, 11:30 AM

Beautiful post and a beautiful song. This post resonated with me because I’m going through something similarly.

keishua February 22, 2013, 5:00 PM

that is truly devastating news. i am so sorry for your loss.
keeping you in my prayers.
email me if you want to talk. even if you don’t want a reply..just someone to hold it.

Nicole February 22, 2013, 5:27 PM

Oh honey…I’m so sorry. I know that feeling of regret all too well. I hope you can find comfort in your memories. I’m sure she would have been very touched by your beautiful words here in her honor. I bet she’s looking down on you and smiling. Love you!

Alison February 22, 2013, 7:45 PM

I’m so sorry for your loss, for your friend, a life cut short. May she rest in peace. Love to you, Charlotte.

Sherelle February 23, 2013, 12:11 PM

This was so touching. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. From your description, she sounded like a phenomenal woman! Loss is never easy. I’m visiting via SITS share fest.

Julie Jordan Scott February 23, 2013, 1:06 PM

So beautifully written. I love the name you gave her, too… and your choice in music together… Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, also warms my heart. Its lovely how you gave all of us, your readers, a chance to get to know her and honor her memory, too.

I’m visiting from SITSSharefest and am so glad I did!

Girl with a New Life February 24, 2013, 10:34 AM

Having lost an old friend recently this all hits close to home. Those song lyrics shot straight through me.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Sending *hugs* your way.

Pretzel Thief March 14, 2013, 8:26 AM

Oh hon…I am so sorry. :-(((

Please accept my deepest condolences.

Raffaela sounds like she was all kinds of wonderful, and no doubt she loved you as much as you loved her. May she rest in peace.

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