This is my friend Krysa Skaramagos-Leedy.
My last words to her were: “On your brain???”
Her response was that she wasn’t worried. She was optimistic and upbeat.
And now, just over a month later, she’s gone.
I choose to remember Krysa as the friend who spent hours on the phone with me during the scariest time of my life–being diagnosed with MS. She had been living with multiple sclerosis for many years at that point and she was one of the first people I called when the tingling in my arm and leg just wasn’t going away. I’ll never forget her, the friend who–in an instant–eased my fears with a simple: “It’s only a bruise.”
I remember my friend, my cheerleader, who brought band-aids to my first Walk MS for the inaugural Team Bruised Apple to wear as accessories. She wanted us to match the apples on our team t-shirts.
I remember her as my esthetician, who marveled at my “cavernous” underarms and laughed so hard with that infectious laugh of hers as she shoved her elbow firmly into my armpit, in order to get the wax strip positioned properly. To date, she is the only person ever to stick their elbow in my armpit.
I remember her compassion. And her joy. And her thoughtfulness.
I remember her as the friend who greeted me at her front door with a bottle of Mavrodaphne and a bag of Oreos when I was having a particularly stressful day just before my wedding.
I remember the intimate conversations we shared–not solely about medications and doctors, but about relationships, nature’s unsolved mysteries, and even life after death.
I remember her voice and what it sounded like every time she greeted me.
“How’re you doing, koukla mou?”
I remember her teasing me for my excessive enthusiasm in attempting to contact Nia Vardalos for a private screening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about the germs in a movie theater while undergoing chemotherapy.
I remember the warrior who remained positive throughout receiving the news of her stage 4 breast cancer, her chemo, and her surgeries. I remember how I felt guilty for not being able to help her the way she helped me. I remember the friend who, during this time, would respond to every “How are you? What can I do?” with “I’m doing great! But how are YOU?”
Because that’s who she was. That’s who she is.
And when the cancer metastasized into her heart and into her brain, she remained steadfast and strong, determined she’d beat this.
And she did.
Yes, she ultimately lost a violent battle to her cancer on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 at the young age of 41. But she put up a hell of a fight to the very finish and conquered something much larger than cancer–fear. And doubt. The cancer may have overtaken her body, but she wouldn’t allow it to take her.
This is how I choose to remember Krysa. Not as the empty shell of a broken body, but as a beacon–my beacon–of fierce love, resilience, and hope. I choose to celebrate her life.
Thank you–for everything, my sweet, beautiful friend. These past nine years that I’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from you were a gift.
Sleep sweet. I hope we one day meet again. 🍏
And to my readers, I leave you with some encouragement, straight from Krysa’s mouth (er, fingertips), from a conversation over Facebook messenger:
We will survive.
May her memory be eternal.
If you wish to help Krysa’s husband and family with the mounting cost of her healthcare, you can do so here.
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