Our last conversation was less than a month ago. My eyes are glued to my phone resting gently in my hands as I read over a few of the last words she said to me. She often lists things as to map out her thoughts and I remember when I first met her, that was something I noticed right away because I do it too.
“1. You’re gorgeous 2. You have grown so much since we met years ago, I’m so proud to call you my sister 3. I miss you 4. LOVE YOU!”
Tears begin to well up and I can’t tell if I’m going to throw up, scream, or cry- maybe a combination of all three. But I sit there still as a statue. My mom attempts to begin a conversation with me from the other room and when I don’t answer, she walks in to see what’s wrong. I look up, my phone still cupped in my now shaking hands and I choke out the words, “Dalia gone.” And then everything around me froze in time as I switch from fits of sobbing to blank stares of disbelief.
Dalia was the very first person I met with the same chronic illnesses as me. I remember posting in an online support group and she befriended me right away. She was with me through every step of my journey. From helping me adjust to life as a gastroparesis warrior, to encouraging me to push myself and overcome hurdles I couldn’t have gotten over on my own. Dalia was there ‘round the clock through text messages and phone calls when I got my feeding tube. She walked me through it all. But our friendship didn’t stop at health related things. We bonded over a mutual love for the lead character of a short lived show called Twisted. We put together care packages for each other usually in themes of green or blue, the colors for gastroparesis and dysautonomia (two illnesses she advocated fiercely for). She was there full of love and support when I came out as a lesbian to all of my friends and family and she was among the first to tell me my girlfriend was a keeper. She cheered me on as I went back to college to finish my degree, something no one ever thought I’d be able to do. Dalia was one of those friends who would be admitted to the hospital, sick as can be and still send you a text to see how you were doing.
If you ask anyone who knew Dalia what type of person she was, they’d tell you she was the glue that held us all together- individually and as a group. She created this family of warriors. Not a family by blood, but a family by strength. She was a mentor, a friend, and a big sister to not only me, but to all of us in the chronic illness community. In every way she supported me, she also supported tons of other young women and men battling the same illnesses as her. I always joked she was an “en-sick-lopedia” because she had an answer to every question when it came to chronic illness. She touched so many lives.
It’s been almost three days since I learned of her passing and it’s already abundantly clear that nothing will be the same without her here. But I find some comfort knowing she is always with me in spirit. She’s within all of us, her light shines on.
Dalia, rest in love, my beautiful warrior.