Last night I heard the news that a woman who I knew had passed away yesterday. The news was very sad and I woke up last night thinking about the many conversations she and I had had together. Over four years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Paula who was one of the kindest and most delightfully sweet women I have ever met in person. She will be missed by many and the loss to her family will be tremendous.
We met out at UCLA along with other women who understood what mesh complications felt like and we hugged and shared. With us were friends or family members and Paula like me was accompanied by her daughter. Paula’s was a consult visit, whereas mine was for removal surgery. I can still envision us as a group sitting in the lobby of the Tiverton House Hotel, after we all hugged and introduced ourselves. For each of the mesh injured women, it was the first step to healing and for our friends and family it was their first step to understanding what a toll mesh takes on the human body.
None of us spent as much time with each other as we would have liked, but the few hours we did spend, was a time of understanding and bonding. The one thing that we had in common was a mesh implant but more than that we understood what it does to our health and our families. I had had phone conversations with Paula and the other women before this meeting but to sit in each other’s presence meant so much more. We could see what it had done to each of us by staring into each other’s eyes. Mesh complications was the hardest thing we had gone through alone, but together we had hope.
After removal, I went through more surgeries and had a very hard time, but in the wings, was a wonderful earthly angel who sent me notes of hope and faith. All this while she too was going through her own personal hell, not just of mesh removal but of breast cancer treatments. We talked over the phone many times and she shared her wisdom of how faith took her through it all.
We had shared many things in phone conversations such as close family loss. She had had had more than one family tragedy but her faith remained strong and brought her through it all. We spoke of the financial toll mesh complications takes on us and our families and she shared that without her husband and daughter’s she would have given up. But that was not Paula. She never gave up and she never wanted anyone else to give up either.
We discussed our love of writing and that is how we both dealt with the many difficult days we had getting through our struggles with our health. She told me she had been writing a book because she wanted her family to know how much they were loved and how they could also get through the most difficult times in their lives. She totally understood that you cannot give up on life because it is so precious and every day is a blessing to live on this earth.
Paula like me was disabled because of mesh complications. We spoke of how it had affected and changed our lives from being healthy women to relying on walkers, walking sticks and family members. We shared laughter as well as tears and my life was enriched after every discussion we had. She was always kind and uplifting to talk to and the sweetest person you could ever meet.
A very sweet angel has now left this earth but now she can do so much good by watching over her family and other mesh injured women who struggle with their daily lives. She is now indeed a Heavenly Angel and there can never be too many to help those in need.
I never once heard any anger in Paula’s voice when we spoke although I have no doubt when alone or with her family she felt a lot of it, just like we all do. She thought the mesh implant in her body had a great deal to do with her cancer and she searched to find those answers. We both knew it was a long shot to prove, but I do know pelvic mesh complications takes so much toll on women’s bodies, and we become vulnerable to illness and disease because of the breakdown of our immune systems.
We both agreed whole heartedly that these complications upset the entire balance of our body eco systems and that leaves us wide open to illness, disease and a shortened lifespan. Paula wanted to beat her cancer and she fought very hard doing whatever it took to do it. Without her family, she may never have made it living as long as she did, but with them standing by her side, she was able to live a happy and peaceful life.
Not long ago Paula went on a special pilgrimage with one of her daughters that gave her such peace and pleasure. She had shared photos and she told me that even in a wheelchair she had had a wonderful time. Her family gave her a wonderful gift and they need to know that she appreciated them very much.
Grief has many stages and there is no length of time to get through it. Her family is now grieving and I am sure they are in shock, even though they knew the end was near. I understand this because of the death of my husband twelve years ago. You still don’t believe it when it happens and it takes a long time to grasp and accept the loss.
Paula is no longer an earthly Angel; she is a heavenly Angel and can now fly high above the earth. And fly she will. There is no doubt in my mind that when she met those she lost at the gates of Heaven she was greeted with so much love. Paula not only earned her wings, she earned her Halo. Even though her physical spirit has now gone from this earth, she left behind many wonderful memories for those who loved her, including me. I will always remember her the way I met her at UCLA and will think of her as a wonderful, happy and sweet, caring woman. It is hard to say goodbye to such a lovely earthly Angel but I have no doubt one day I will see her again and I hope to fly beside her to watch over my own family and other mesh injured women.
It is now time to say farewell to a very wonderful Angel…….