For My Friend, Lizzy Feistamel - Nov 18, 1978 - Jan 31, 2007

February 3, 2007

I found my friend Lizzy - or maybe we found each other around five years ago. I walked into our little lung transplant support group and spotted her - I think it's easy for us CFers to spot our kind. She was sitting there, sucking oxygen, with her entourage surrounding her - her Mom, Kate, Luke and Em and other friends. I don't remember all your names, but I'll never forget how much you love Lizzy... I sat down next to Lizzy that day and I proceeded to fall in love.

I let her know I'd been in her shoes - and I let her know how incredible this breathin' stuff really is. Her eyes and her whole face lit up as I explained a little about what was in store for her. Over the next several months, I did my best to keep her spirits up with emails we exchanged - but as sick as she was, her responses always seemed to boost my spirits higher than I ever imagined I could raise hers.

I remember she blew me off at the CF Great Strides walk on a beautiful Sunday - because she had been called for her lungs a few days before. I went anyways, and I met around 20 incredible people - her family and friends who were all so very excited, and shared that love and excitement with me. I heard so many stories that day, including how Mr. Joanis used to open the door and bark, "What do YOU want?!?" whenever Lizzy came to visit Em while she was waiting - but he also made sure there was a comfortable chair next to every staircase for her to rest... Being surrounded by people who love Lizzy so very much was incredible...

After that, I remember Lizzy talking about doing her first 5K - she started running much more quickly than I did after my transplant. And I remember excited emails about teaching neighbors to swim and hip-hop dance classes and other fun things - it was impossible not to sense her love of life.

We even leapt tall buildings together - she scampered 94 floors up the Hancock's stairs with me a few times

I don't know her as well as many of you have known her, and I haven't loved her as long as many of you have loved her - but like so many of you, Lizzy touched my soul in a very deep way... Some of us CF people tend to get under people's skin - I'm used to doing that to others - but I'm not always accustomed to having it done to me like Lizzy did... We may have been given a tough role in life, but so many of us are surrounded by such incredible love - I know Lizzy felt that way. Lizzy is one of my heroes - and Lizzy didn't become Lizzy by accident... She was surrounded by a wonderful and loving family, and incredible friends.

Thank you Jon, for letting Lizzy know love - this is what she wrote to me last March: "Things are going so well with my love. It is like an awakening. Truly a gift from the universe. The same kind of miraculous gift as receiving new lungs. Something you could have always hoped for but never have dreamed up how special it is to actually live it." No one should ever leave this planet without feeling love for and feeling loved by someone beyond our families… That's what you did for Lizzy, Jon, and it means so much to so many of us...

Part of me is disappointed in the world for letting a precious young girl down - another part of me is thankful that she got five more beautiful years of life than she may have had - and she learned what it was like to really breathe... I wish she would have known who her donor was, I wish her donor family would have known Lizzy - she would have liked that, and they would have adored her.

Lizzy didn't deserve her cystic fibrosis, she didn't deserve all she went through then, and now... She deserved so much more than five years with beautiful, new lungs... Life is kinda puzzling sometimes and what happened to our Lizzy was not fair - but Life isn't fair or unfair... Life just is... Life just happens. We're all given a battle plan in life - and some of us seem to draw much more difficult assignments than others... But we all fight with the spirit we're given - I'll always admire your spirit, Lizzy...

A year after her beautiful new lungs, the Joanis', Tom Dundee, Kat Eggleston and the Sons of the Never Wrong, and so many other people threw Lizzy a "got well" party - I fell in love with the Sons through Lizzy. Sue Demel wrote a song that I told her reminded me of Lizzy and me. On their next CD, Lizzy played her didgeridoo on that song, and we were both incredibly honored that the Sons dedicated that song to Lizzy, me and the donors that saved our lives. The song starts:

The stronger the wind is, the stronger the tree
Have you seen it, have you touched the truth,
have you ridden that train or taken a longer look?
Have you walked that walk, have you taken that leap,
have you found a friend

or have you lost her?

We've all lost a beautiful and precious friend and daughter and sister and aunt and a love today. But Lizzy will be in our hearts forever.

I love you Lizzy.