Kristin deals with loss of a dear friend, and remembers her accomplishments.

I have dealt with a lot of loss in my life — in fact, I was introduced to the loss of human life at a rather early age when my beloved grandfather passed away when I was only 12 years old. I have said goodbye to several friends who died much too early in their young lives, members of my family who suffered from illness, dear pets who touched my life as much as any human, family friends and mentors. None of these goodbyes are easy and a recent goodbye has taken hold of my heart in a way unlike any other. 

To go out fighting, with your head held high, fists in the air, defying the pain and limitations of your disease… that’s how I want to live every day.

My dear friend Eva passed away at the end of December from complications following a surgery for scleroderma. She was 22, not yet married, not yet a mother.  

Earlier in January I received a voicemail from my Mom — her voice was tense with concern and she needed me to call her back. My stomach was immediately tight as I knew from the tone of her voice that she had bad news for me. I went through my internal Rolodex of family friends and family members who could possibly be in a bad situation….and I was speechless when I heard the words, “Eva has passed away.” 

Not little, sprightly Eva. Not the girl who loved Barbie and was always smiling. Not the little girl who grew up into a tenacious young woman, despite all of the health obstacles placed in her path. I couldn’t believe that scleroderma and its associated complications had taken her from us. 

Eva personified effervescence — she was like walking pink soda pop, all sparkly and fizzy goodness. She had a smile you could see from yards away. I could always spot her at Arthritis Foundation conferences because I could see her smile from yards away, even with my horrible vision. When I first met her many years ago, Eva and her twin sister Francie would carry around their Barbies with them everywhere. This love of Barbie evolved into Eva’s love of fashion—a passion we both shared. 

Eva’s name may not be on plaques or in history books, but she made great strides on behalf of the arthritis community. She sought to educate everyone around her about scleroderma and arthritis. She was a faithful attendee at Arthritis Foundation and Scleroderma Foundation conferences. When she saw a need to create a juvenile scleroderma group at the Scleroderma Foundation conference, similar to the JA Conference, she went about creating it with some friends. She was always curious about each individual’s experience with arthritis—and eager to share her own battles in the hope that she could offer some solace or tips to ease their strain. 

I will never understand why Eva was taken from this world so soon. This was a girl who could capture the attention of a room and compel even the toughest people to listen. In her final weeks of life she had joined a patient advocacy committee at the facility where she was undergoing care. Rather than accept problems lying down on her sick bed, Eva fought back and advocated for herself and others up until her last day. 

To go out fighting, with your head held high, fists in the air, defying the pain and limitations of your disease… that’s how I want to live every day. Thank you, Eva, for showing me the way.