Ten years ago today the world lost a beautiful soul, and I lost my very best friend. Kelly Bisson touched the lives of every single person she met. If you were lucky enough to get to know Kelly, you never forgot her. Her personality was magnetic, she lived every waking moment as if it were her last and she was the most devoted mother to her daughter Alex that I had ever seen.

I’ve been going through and reading letters and notes people shared at her Celebration of Life ten years ago and she was truly something special.

“Throughout her treatment, Kelly (as was very typical of her) had the most positive, upbeat attitude imaginable. She was proud to be a part of the Good Sam Team and valued the interaction she had with the patients she worked with. She especially appreciated the special bond she developed with her oncology patients because as she put it, ‘I can see things from their point of view!’ Kelly has touched so many of us in many different ways and her smiling face and bubbly, upbeat personality will remain in our hearts always.” ~ Anne Coash

I can personally attest to her positive attitude throughout treatment. She was determined to beat cancer and continued to exercise daily to show it she was winning. And winning she was…until she caught a cold that winter of 2003. With her immune system weakened the flu got the best of her and she succumbed to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and passed away on January 7, 2004 at the young age of 39.

I would never have guessed the first time I met Kelly that she and I would become so close. She was the most loyal of all friends, honest and forthright – she did not have a problem telling you what she thought.

Kelly at end of trail race with daughter Alex

Kelly at end of trail race with daughter Alex

And she actually changed my life. I watched as she dealt with being a single mom, dating, and finding a balance between the two. I was amazed how she could keep friends with her exes, which was evident by them showing up at her Celebration of Life. Don’t misinterpret this to think Kelly was a floozy – quite the contrary. She was a single mom for nine years. She was careful with whom she would date. She would go on a date hike, bike ride or run with someone of interest. And if there was no chemistry between them, they usually remained friends and continued to hike and bike together. She had an amazing knack for that. There was no time for her to stay in a relationship that “wasn’t right” which helped me get out from my own bad relationship that hadn’t been right for years.

From there mine and Kelly’s relationship continued to grow and we became as close as sisters. We would sit for hours in the evening after our girls had gone to bed, pouring over pictures from our childhoods, telling stories and learning as much about each other as we could. I knew her biggest fears and her wildest dreams. When I moved to Arizona, she was down visiting me before all my furniture was unpacked. My first hike in the desert was with Kelly. She told me she started saving to move to Arizona in ten years when Alex went off to college. The last card I received from Kelly was of two old ladies in rocking chairs drinking wine and in it she wrote “this is us when we’re 80!”

I miss Kelly. And although the ache as subsided and most of the time when I think of her it’s with a smile and wondering what she’s up to wherever she is – there are times like today, when I’m sad that she isn’t here on this earth with us; for her daughter not to know her mother as an adult; and for Kelly not to see Alex now as the strong young woman she has become. I am sad she’s not here to see just how happy her brother Scott is now with his beautiful wife Marriya. If there is any chance Kelly had a hand in bringing those two together, I’m sure she did! And I am sad she is not here in Arizona with me, enjoying the magnificent sunsets, the beauty of the desert, the run club that I know she would have helped me start, and sad that my daughter Gracie and my new friends won’t get to know her, as I’m sure she would’ve touched their lives as she did mine.

Looking back now I regret that I wasn’t a better friend to Kelly. I never told her how much I loved her or how much she influenced my life – I took for granted there would always be time. And then there wasn’t. Oh, I shared all those things with her while at her bedside in the hospital for two weeks but she was in a medically induced coma during that time so I’m not sure she heard. Hopefully she knows.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

So much has happened in my life the past ten years I would love to share with her. So much of it, after all, would not have been possible if it weren’t for Kelly. And because of her I have learned to become a better friend to others and have learned to share my love with them. Kelly truly is the wind beneath my wings.

In my heart forever – I love you Kelly!