My heart is heavy…my friend is rapidly slipping away and I am beyond torn. I don’t want her to suffer, but I don’t want her to ever leave.

I have cried for the past 22 months since her diagnosis and now I can see this disease taking her in front of my very eyes. Her body is succumbing, but she never gave up. She never stopped fighting to stay alive. Every decision she made was to LIVE and LOVE. LOVE and LIVE. Fully. Completely. Taking every opportunity to LOVE and LIVE. She is amazing. Her strength and spirit are beyond amazing. She has always chosen LOVE as her guide.

As I held her hand today in the hospital and bent my head down I saw the hospital band on her wrist with her name and room number: 18B.  It hit me. 18B.  It was a message to me to CHOOSE LOVE.  REAL LOVE.

18B was my seat number, 22 years ago, flying home from working at Mac World, in the Summer of ’96. I was flying home to California and my off/on again fiancé was flying home from Mac World too, on the same plane. We had broken up days before leaving for Boston, but we reunited in Boston just days before coming home. So we were flying home as a couple again. We were not assigned seats together on the plane, as we were broken up when we left Cali – but now that we were back together, he was trying to organize sitting together for the flight home.

I was settled in seat 18B – my roomy seat in the exit row and my fiancé was cramped in the back – Row 27. As I am sitting quietly while the plane is still boarding, a big man comes from the back of the plane and told the lady in front of me – “Your husband wants me to trade seats with you, so you can sit with him” and he points toward the back of the plane. Seemingly surprised and puzzled she responds, “I don’t have a husband” but the guy points to the back of the plane again – so she raises up out of her seat a bit and turns to the back to look and shook her head and said “he’s not my husband”. The big guy standing in the aisle looked very confused now and he was holding people up from getting to their seats. All this was creating quite a disturbance. I couldn’t help but overhearing all this, since I was seated directly behind the lady, so I raise up a bit and turn to the back and see my “on again fiancé” smiling and waving proudly from Row 27.  And I could feel the whole plane looking too…

I got flustered and tried to quietly tell the big guy standing in the aisle – “that’s not my husband but it’s my seat you want”. Now the guy was even more confused. I fumbled to unbuckle and gather my belongings – giving up my roomy exit row seat to move to the back of the plane. I am covering my face with my grey sweater as I sheepishly walk to the back of the plane. The plane was full of my work colleagues I had worked with all week – all who thought I was single. When I left Cali headed for Boston I was single…but 6 days later everything is changed. And now they are hearing “my husband” is in the back of the plane…oh my. I was embarrassed with the unwanted attention, and my misunderstood relationship status, I just wanted to get to the back of the plane and hide my head. I didn’t want my on again LOVE status to be broadcast on the plane, in front of all my peers.

As I cower down in my seat in Row 27 my on again fiancé was glowing. He was so proud he got the guy to move so we could fly home sitting together. He was a good man that day. He is still a good man today. I didn’t end up marrying my on again fiancé. I went on to marry someone else who didn’t fight for me to sit with him, and sadly, that did not last.

As I looked at my friend’s hospital bracelet today and saw 18B, I knew it was a message for me to choose LOVE. REAL LOVE. FOREVER LOVE.

My friend has always modeled LOVE. Her walk in life has always shown LOVE to be her guide. REAL LOVE. FOREVER LOVE. And now from her most fragile state, her light and her gift and her message is brighter than ever. CHOOSE LOVE. REAL LOVE.

The kind of LOVE that asks others to change seats and creates boarding chaos, just so he can sit next to you. CHOOSE LOVE. REAL. FOREVER. LOVE.