Cindy worked with me every step of the way on my debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. That novel is about a young woman wasting away from tuberculosis. She grows weak and has difficulty breathing. It's ironic that lung cancer caused many of those same symptoms in Cindy herself.
The morning after Cindy died, I went to the gym. I was pushing myself hard, but all I could think about was that Cindy would never move again. It was much like this passage from The Ballad of Jessie Pearl:
I grab an old coat that Tom outgrew and let myself out the back door. The wind makes a moaning sound like it's grieving too. I whistle for Patches and race down the dirt road. Carrie will never move again, and knowing that pushes me to run for both of us.
I have corresponded with Cindy almost daily for the past ten years. I keep expecting an email to pop up in my inbox. It doesn't seem real that she's gone. Jessie Pearl experienced those same emotions when her sister died:
I've seen Carrie every day of my life, but after tomorrow I'll never see her again. Poof--she'll be gone. I can't even conceive of it.
And like Jessie I'm struggling to believe Cindy is in a better place.When Jessie's other sister tells her that she'll see Carrie again some day in heaven, Jessie expresses her doubts:
I wish there was a guarantee of that. Do you really believe it?
Here's how Anna answers her:
I think everybody lives with doubt, Jessie, but I'm trying hard to believe. Faith brings me comfort.
In the end, faith is all we're left with. Rest in peace, dear friend. I hope we'll meet again.