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Alicia Rose Parlette would have been 33 today. It’s just freaking not fair that cancer robbed us of her presence almost 5 years ago (HOW has it been that long???). She was such a wonderful friend and a great person. I would have loved seeing how she might have changed over the years, as we all do. Without cancer, would she be married? Have a family? I have no doubt that these would be true and I hate that cancer robbed her of those dreams.

I do want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the gift she (and, inadvertently, cancer) also gave me. Any time any one of you might think I handled something with grace or if you ever admire my openness about this disease, or my willingness to accept help, or really anything at all along this strange journey… well, I learned it all from Alicia first. She did it first with far more grace and dignity than I ever could hope to attain and I am just following in her footsteps.

If you have never read any of Alicia’s writing, take this moment to go here and read just a few of her entries. They are raw, open and unfathomably touching. This is a good one, and timely too, as it’s about her 24th birthday. Almost 10 years ago. Wow. Her writing is so good. I am just a simple blogger; she was a true writer, for a real live paper and everything.

I miss you, Alicia. I so often wish I could call you up and commiserate about the dulling effects of painkillers, or complain about the medical system or just talk with another young person who has cancer and knows what this means to daily life. I’m so sorry I was so young when you were going through all of this and I didn’t say or do the right things. Now that I’m going through something so similar, I realize what a dope I was. I wish I could turn back time and call you more often, visit more often, but here we are. I wish you could see the four beautiful little girls who share your middle name. I told Emmie stories about you tonight and she just lapped them up. We had a cake for you (thank you, Jackie!) and sang for you and everything. I know birthdays were your favorite. So many of us miss you so much, every day. Thank you for everything you gave me. I wish neither of us ever had to learn how to deal with this, but I am forever grateful for your inimitable example.

I love you, Leashy.