I received a text message from Vicki's daughter. Her suffering has ended, and she passed on this evening at 5 PM.
Vicki had a "bad stomach" for years. She in fact successfully passed her sandan test at Winterfest (2 years ago) while suffering from this "stomach ailment." She had seen health care practitioners about it for years, but nobody had done the right test. Finally she had an MRI (the only imaging technique capable of diagnosing her) and it revealed advanced pancreatic cancer. By the time it was discovered, it was too far advanced to be surgically removed.
Vicki went through a course of treatments at Johns Hopkins University - probably one of the best available places to deal with her advanced cancer. But they were not able to reverse its course.
It's difficult to say this but... this is not a pleasant way to go. When the pancreas starts acting up, bad things happen inside. It hits home for me. My mom suffered from her mid-20s on with severe rheumatoid arthritis. I remember her not having normal-looking hands, wrists, ankles, and feet. But she never complained, and she was perpetually pleasant. Her therapy? Aspirin and nothing more. But later in her life she came down with a case of ideopathic (of unknown cause) pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). I saw one of the most stoic people I know go from walking to dead in 10 days. And her suffering was indescribable.
In the last few days, Vicki's daughter asked me to pray for a quick ending. I did. She was mercifully relieved from her suffering, and with her immediate family around. If there was a way for the ending to be the best that it could be under the circumstances, well this was it.
We will all miss her. But her legacy will live on.
When Vicki could take the time to talk with me this last half year, her demeanor was upbeat. She knew she was going to die, and she was fine with it. Obviously she would have preferred to live, but she accepted her fate. She was at peace with her life, and was willing to go on to the next. She was proud of all her accomplishments. Towards the end, we still managed to stay in touch. Sometimes it was a few words in a text message. Towards the end it was garbled. The last text message was a single "P" as a response to having read this thread. From that point forward I was pleased with getting the Verizon-to-Verizon "D" that let me know my text message was Delivered to a phone that was on. In the last 2 days, her daughter picked up her phone and allowed me to be part of the end.
I have shed many tears in this last month. I will shed more in the coming days. But I am a better person for having been a part of Vicki's life.
I once knew Vicki. And now a part of her lives on in me.