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The last time I played Scrabble with Alex it was late October. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember that she was out of breath from just sitting and playing and that by the time I was getting ready to leave she had already retired to the couch and had hooked herself up with some oxygen.

Because of her cancer, her doctors didn’t expect her to live past last Christmas. But it was last year at Christmastime when she drove out to Floyd to meet me for a game. The ornament she made for me sat in a shiny sliver gift bag on the Café Del Sol table while we played.

Not only did Alex prove her doctors wrong by still being alive last Christmas, but in the months that followed she traveled to Iceland and to Greece with her husband. She read my book, The Jim and Dan Stories, even though I warned her that, considering her state of health, it would probably be rough for her to read, especially the passages describing how I watched my brother Dan die of from liver failure.

She loved the book, got her Glade Church book club to read it, and invited me to talk to the group. The night the group met, I snapped a photo of Alex under the mosaic she made that hangs above the altar. The mosaic, which spelled out JOY, was built with shards of pottery that had been accidentally broken and was initially part of an art show at the church called “Strong in the Broken Places.”

A few weeks ago, I got word that Alex was in the hospital. When I called her hospital room, she was upbeat and so I joked, “So Alex, what are you going to be doing for the rest of the day?”

“I just played Scrabble with Paul (her husband). He beat me and I’m still a little mad about that,” she answered, making me laugh.

She was only in the hospital for a couple of days. The IV fluids and nutrition she received helped her feel better. “I’m in the early stages of liver failure,” she told me bluntly before we hung up.

A week later, Alex was home, stretched out on a bed in her living room, when I and another friend went to visit. She looked dramatically different from when I had seen her in October. Because her face was drawn, her features were sharply defined, making her beauty strangely more obvious. Her doctor didn’t think she could withstand anymore treatment, she told me.

I knew I probably wouldn’t be playing Scrabble with Alex again, but I thought I would get to visit her again, at least one more time. This past Sunday, her husband sent out a group email: Today we mourn the passing of our companion, friend, Wife, Mother and Grandmother, Alex, who died this morning after a courageous fight with cancer which lasted nearly three and one half years. Alex was a special woman who loved life, who cared deeply for her family, who respected animals, especially horses, and who fought injustice in the world. She will be missed by all.

Sitting on the porch this morning, while jotting these words down in my notebook, the wind stirred up. I put my pen down and listened, remembering that Alex’s last name was Wind. Closing my eyes, I let myself feel the world without her in it and tried to understand the mystery of that reality.


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that was wonderfully put- it made me wish i had known her like you did.

A lovely post, Colleen. A dear friend of my husband and mine had a liver transplant about two years ago and we are most grateful that he is in our lives and doing well now.
I am sorry for the loss of your friend.

I have enjoyed reading your posts about Alex and I know you will miss her. What a wonderful tribute.

What a beautiful memorial to your friend, Colleen. I'm sure she profited greatly by your friendship...so many people fade out of the lives of those who are terminally ill. I am so sorry for your loss.

I'm so sorry.

Lovely tribute.

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, Alex. My heart to your heart.

sounds like alex was a wonderful person...sorry to hear about her death. i lost one of my childhood friends of the same name this year.

~~ A most beautiful tribute ~~

My heart is sad for you & the passing of your friend. I will light a candle for you ~~


i'm so sorry to hear about your sad goodbye colleen. but she was, from what you have written of her today and before a wonderful woman who touched many people. i love that you felt the wind.
a beautiful post about a beautiful friend.

hugs dear one.

Life without certain loved ones may forever be a mystery to us all. I am saddened by your friend's passing. I'm sure such a vibrant person is in the wind and most other places she loved.

Another blog friend of mine has a friend who is undergoing her 2nd round of chemo for breast cancer, and tomorrow, my friend is shaving off her 2 1/2 feet of hair and has raised
about 750 pounds for cancer.
It is everywhere and we need to be there for our close friends just as you have been for Alex.

I heard on the nightly news last week that breast cancer has nose dived. They figure it is because so many women have stopped using hormone replacement therapy. Of course that can't be the only reason because I know women who have had it who didn't use HRT.

Alex's cancer started in her eye. She lost an eye to it quite a few years ago and thought the cancer was gone, but it returned eventually.

I'm sorry to hear of Alex's death. I remember you writing about her before. Nice of her to touch you, as you thought of her though! xoxo A card with a picture is on it's way....

Oh I am sad for you!!
What a beautiful tribute.

A lovely tribute to her, Colleen, by you and by her husband. She must have been a special woman.

Colleen, you have so many beautiful memories of Alex. I am blessed to know of her through your loving words. My heart goes out to you and to all those that loved her.


You really made me feel the loss of this wonderful woman. It sounds as if she was a gift to all who knew her.

Dear Colleen
A Truly lovely Tribute to Your dear friend.My heart aches for you. Take care

It sounds as though Alex was a wonderful spirited friend. Few dealing with that disease are strong enough to keep their sense of humor intact through the final days. That alone would keep a smile on my face and help me thru the loss of such a friend.

Wonderful post, Colleen. Thanks for sharing memories of Alex with us.

So sorry about your friend. But her life, as you describe it, is a triumph. She seems to have touched many.

I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Alex. She sounds like a most remarkable woman.

Oh Alex, I hope you are in a wonderful place, your pain gone...your spirit rejuvenated and free.

Colleen that was a beautiful tribute to your friend.....she was extraordinary and what a good example she set in her courageous fight.

Sometimes it doesn't seem possible that the world could go on without some people. But somehow it does, and so do we.

Your friend's family and YOU will be in my thoughts and prayers at this sad time. Sad, yes, to lose such a wonderful friend and yet in the wind you will hear her every day.

It's really just not fair. But it is an incredible gift that she will always live on in the stories and thoughts and words she planted in everyone she knew.

Beyond that, I have very little to add at the moment. It's really just not fair.

My 2 sisters were on HRT and the one stopped as soon as that study came out, only to be diagnosed within 1 1/2 years. My oldest sister had been on it for 10 years and was diagnosed 5 months before the other sister. Co-incidence? I've been getting 1 mammogram a year for 20 years after a benign lump was removed when I was 32.

Your friend had a relatively rare type. A little girl in my Gr. 1 class last year had a glass eye because of cancer.

My heart goes out to you and to Alex's family. Thank you so much for introducing us to her and to her joie de vivre.

I'm so sorry for your loss, dear Colleen...
What a lovely tribute to this very brave woman...How amazing that she outlived her doctors predictions and crammed sooo much good stuff into that precious precious time...My heart goes out to you and to her family, even though I don't know them--- in this terrible time of loss

Alex will obviously be missed, but lives on in your loving post. Thanks for sharing.

I actually know of another person who lived in Floyd whose cancer started in his eye, which seems unusual to me.

Thank you to everyone for all your heartfelt comments.

Oh, Colleen, I was so sorry to read about the passing of your friend. I remember your posts about her and how you both loved to play Scrabble. And I remember thinking what a remarkable woman she was. Please accept my deepest sympathy.
But how nice that she's still "with" you and even better....you recognized her spirit.

I'm sorry for your loss, this seems to be an especially hard december for many, my Grandmother passed away the 14th & then on the 18th, while still in MA for the ceremony, I recieved a voice mail from my son's teacher in which she mentioned that her own grandmother had passed that day.

Hey Coll, So sorry about the loss of your scrabble buddy and friend. Love ya!

Oh Colleen, I'm so sorry about your loss. I recall your previous posts that included Alex and I'm sure you are missing her dearly.
When I saw the mention of this (and the link) in your current post, I just had to stop in here, read your marvelous tribute to her, and pass on my very late condolenses. So sorry!

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