To my sweet Lea Marie,
It’s been almost a month and a half since you gained your wings, but that also means you have been pain-free and breathing easy for a month and a half too. I went to see a CF psychologist a couple weeks ago to talk through some of my anxiety and grief. She suggested writing you a letter of everything I would have said to you if given the chance, so here I am.
It took me a while to actually process that you were gone, who am I kidding—I’m still processing it. We never were around each other physically, and that’s why I feel like you’re just inpatient or traveling the world right now with no phone service. My mind will drift, I’ll forget that you’re gone and I’ll think for a split second: “Wow I haven’t talked to Lea in so long I have to FaceTime her tonight!” or “Oh my goodness, I have to send Lea this screenshot of what this guy on Hinge sent me.” And then it all hits me again. I want you to know that I am getting through this and I’m going to be okay. It’s so hard to process grief, it’s so overwhelming and unexplainable. A friend sent this metaphor of grief and I can’t believe how perfectly it describes how I’m feeling:
I can’t tell you how proud I am to have been able to know you, love you and be one of your best friends. Although I’m not surprised by this, I am amazed at how many people you inspired, mentored, gave advice to and affected. I mean there could not have been more #LoveForLea! I’m so thankful and grateful to have gained the friendship of some of those people since your passing.
You have influenced me and inspired me more than you know. We “met” about a month before Tiff’s transplant. I couldn’t believe you were nurse with CF and I just HAD to learn more about you. You couldn’t believe about my late diagnosis and after just two DMs you were already asking how I was dealing with it / telling me I could always talk to you if I needed to. I was hooked after our first FaceTime lasted 2 hours and knew we were going to be fast friends. A couple weeks later Tiff got THE call and everyone was constantly asking you how she was doing. *Insert you & Tiff quoting “why are you so obsessed with me” from Mean Girls*
Like the classic Lea we all know and love you were supporting others during this overwhelming and scary time with Tiff’s transplant but had no time to process it all for yourself. Your best friend was getting new lungs and you couldn’t be there with her physically. I was still new to the CF community but I wanted to be your support through all of it. You had the brilliant idea to make a video for Tiff but were afraid you couldn’t get it done in time.
I was just a sophomore in college and had all the time in the world so I offered to put it all together for you. It was heartwarming to see all the love and support within the CF community for Tiff; I knew I had made my way into something special. Fast-forward almost three years later the three of us, best friends across the country are all FaceTiming while Tiff was visiting you Maryland. That was a dream come true for the two of you and I got to be part of it. I would give anything to have one more FaceTime call between the three of us.
Although I don’t think I can ever “get over” your passing, I find so much comfort in knowing you’re always with us. You’re the sloth stuffed animals that are everywhere, you’re laughing with me whenever I see a funny meme that I know you would love, you’re the cardinal I see in my backyard, you’re the bright stars in the sky and you’re with all of us who love you and think of you everyday. My sister sent me this quote by Pascal Barre: “When a loved one passes, your life then becomes more valuable as you are now a guardian of their memory.” “[…]It’s now up to you to make their memory shine brighter for the world to see. You are even more valuable.” I like to think that I’ll always have a little piece of Leaf with me. Your legacy lives on through all of us, through our memories and now through the Lea Marie Faraone Foundation.
I should probably wrap things up now, I know you have people to see and things to do like haunt Tiff at the In-N-Out drive-thru. But before I end this I want to say thank you for being one of the best people I will ever know, thank you for the endless laughs, thank you for being my big cyster, thank you for introducing me to the best people and thank you for letting me be in your life.
Love you endlessly,
Catdog (Catdog CatDiggityDog)