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The Thief

by Ruth Gordon, LCSW

A thief arrived on our doorstep and breached the protective bubble that enclosed our family. The thief’s name was Death by Cancer. The thief stole Stacy Leigh Gordon, age 45. from our arms and whisked her to another realm, one which we will only be able to enter at some undetermined time in the future.

Stacy Leigh Gordon was a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, attorney and journalist. She was really something quite special.

While she was not my biological child, she was a second daughter in my heart. At the end of her life, when she was still battling, but becoming weaker every day, she called me “mommy” and liked to snuggle next to me in her hospital bed. What a privilege that was.

Stacy spent her life defying the odds. She had her first newspaper column at 14 (also her first lawsuit), graduated from high school a year early and paid her own way through the University of Florida, Northwestern School of Journalism and Fordham Law School. She was “Dr. Stacy”, but with her blonde curls, shining blue eyes and high-pitched giggle, you never would have guessed what an intellectual powerhouse she really was.

I love Stacy and am not yet ready to put her in the past tense. I don’t know if I ever will. She was so determined, persistent and impressive that even though I knew that a diagnosis of stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was quite terrible, I always, until the very end, believed that she would find a way to outsmart that damn disease and return to us with her limitless energy and joie de vivre. I was wrong.

My girl faced many challenges in her life, among them the discovery that her first son, Max, had autism. Even when the doctors initially failed to take her fears seriously, she attacked the situation with her usual vigor and I can tell you, as a first-hand witness, that Max has had every possible opportunity afforded him. Stacy would have been so proud of him at her funeral as he, his brother Jacob and my son, Bennett eulogized her before a large crowd. Max told us that his mother was a “good woman”, that she had taught him to be positive and that’s why he always was.

Jacob looks just like his mother. It’s easy to make him laugh, he’s a goof ball (in the very best way) and is a great baseball player and fan.

My son has displayed strength and composure like nothing I have ever seen. He and Stacy were married for 17 ½ years. They understood each other thoroughly, and were still in love. Bennett has, literally, slept on the floor so that Stacy could be comfortable and never shied away from the unpleasantness that cancer brings. He was with her when she died.

I am very, very angry about her death. It’s simply WRONG. I will never be able to say, “it was for the best”. I must, as all of us who love her must, accept that she won’t come bouncing into the room like a joyful puppy and lead us wherever she would like to go. There is nothing “best” about any of this.

My own mother died 22 years ago. I have asked her (I speak to her all the time) to keep her eyes open for the bubbly blonde who loves to smile and show her the way around heaven. Boy will those 2 get along! Stacy will settle in quickly as my mother proudly embraces her and my father pats her head like he did mine throughout our time together as father and daughter.

I console myself with the belief that we will all meet up again, sometime. I don’t care if my belief is correct — I need it as I learn to live with the losses our lives inevitably bring.

I love my life, I really do. I eagerly anticipate, however, the joyful reunion that awaits. We were so fortunate to have had someone as extraordinary as Stacy in our lives. She believed in the possibilities and that you never say die until you have used up your resources and have nothing left with which to fight.

She lives on in the DNA of my grandchildren and, of course, in the love with which she has filled our hearts. I will see her when the sun shines and know she is there when her children laugh.

Max is right, his mother is a good woman; a very good woman. An original we were blessed to have in our lives for a while and who we will miss and remember forever.

Ruth Gordon is licensed clinical social worker in both Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

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