Seven Years

Monday marked the seven-year anniversary of the passing of my former coworker and dear friend, Carly Hughes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. I had to double check. But it’s true. Seven years.

I was afraid that as the years passed, I would forget her. Although I may not remember exact conversations, I remember how she made me feel. She always made me laugh with her pranks and tall tales. She also knew how to get under my skin, in a way that was both effective and non-threatening. I still laugh thinking about how mad I got when I came to work one day and she had turned my desk around to face in the opposite direction.

Carly was a caring soul, one who always looked out for other people. There are many stories of her heroic dedication to her friends. Most of all, she knew how to be there for someone going through a tough time. She understood the importance of physical presence in an era when we live our lives behind our devices.

In the process of writing my book, I came across notes and old emails that helped take me back to 2011, when she joined Visible Measures and our friendship took off. By jogging my memory, these notes allowed me to live in the moment, as if it were happening all over again. I still to this day have not seen anyone drink a large Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee as fast as Carly.

I still think about her often. Her passing feels like a lifetime ago, but I’m happy that the memories remain, as does her legacy. Words can’t adequately express what she’s meant to me. (I tried.)

There is a foundation named in her honor, and on the website are several stories about her that will warm your heart.

I’ve accepted that I’m never going to understand how someone so full of life could be taken from us at 24 years of age. Only God can answer that. But I’m happy to have her as a guardian angel, watching over me and giving me encouragement when I need it.

Just leave my desk alone, Carly.

 

Between Then and Now

It’s been a while since my last book update.

I am happy to say that I am still making progress, albeit slowly. Working full-time only affords me limited energy at the end of the day to type coherent sentences, but it is progress nonetheless. In the beginning, I was keeping track of how many pages I had written. Although by now I’ve lost track, I am well over 300 at this point.

Instead of tracking page count, the way I measure my writing progress is by where I am in my story. Right now, I am in late 2012, right on the cusp of the most emotional two months of my life. January and February 2013 was a defining period that changed the trajectory of my life forever. Even now, it still elicits mixed emotions. The pain of loss. The frustration of dealing with a rapidly-weakening body. The nostalgia of living and working in Boston. The satisfaction of realizing just how much I’ve grown since that time. Continue reading “Between Then and Now”

5 Years

Five years ago today, my coworker and good friend Carly Hughes passed away from cancer at age 24. The day is forever etched into my memory. Part of me still wants to believe that she got better, came back to work, and resumed her life. It still seems inconceivable, even after all this time, that she is actually gone.

Continue reading “5 Years”

On Eagle’s Wings

Author’s Note:

This piece was originally written back in 2016. 

_________

“Please don’t ever forget her.”

The quivering voice of Carly’s mother, Irene, echoed loudly in my head.

It was November 2014, and I had just finished giving a speech to my classmates in the Boston College MBA program. The topic of my TED-style talk was my transition from ability to disability over the previous eight years of my life. Classmates were coming up to congratulate me on a job well done, yet I couldn’t shake the fact that, when speaking about my friend Carly and the impact she had on my life, I had forgotten key details of our time together.

Ever since I started business school three months earlier, I had longed for an opportunity to tell my new group of friends about my journey living with Miyoshi Myopathy, a form of muscular dystrophy that had turned my life upside down. I wanted to answer the questions they never asked me, but knew they had. More than anything, I wanted them to know that I was not always disabled, and that I was not ashamed of the person I had become.

In the rehearsals leading up to my talk, I barely mentioned Carly in my story, for fear that I would run over my time allotment. However, in the heat of the moment, in front of an audience of sixty classmates and professors, I realized that I couldn’t tell my story – especially the part about how I was able to turn my life around – without mentioning Carly. To leave her out would be an injustice.

Before I knew it, I was gushing about her bravery and how her cancer battle inspired me to reexamine my attitude toward my own disease. I knew I succeeded in conveying how she made me feel, which at the end of the day is what was important to share. But when it came time to talk about her joyful personality and the many laughs we shared, I blanked on specifics.

I realized that some of the details of our friendship – actual events that took place and conversations we had before she got sick – were starting to fade from my memory. I felt guilty, as if I had abandoned a friend.

Continue reading “On Eagle’s Wings”