Many of you will remember that back on September 19, 2009, I blogged about the burial of my friend, Leah Miller that occurred on that day. It took me a VERY long time to even look at Leah’s pictures without the tears flowing like a geyser. One of my strongest sources of strength during that time was my friend Andrea L. Halverson Blanscet. She had been a true rock for me since I met her in June 2004. There are truths about myself, about my life that I could never bring myself to speak out loud with others, but with Andrea, I could. There was never a time when she judged me or my situation. All I ever got from her was encouragement. Constant encouragement.
She didn’t just provide that encouragement verbally, she gave it by example. When I met her, we were both paralegals at Irwin & Boesen. I never told her this fact, but I came into the firm in a fairly defensive (literally) stance because I had been on the “other side” practically my entire career. I knew Jon, Brad, JJ and Chris because the insurance company I had previously worked for had squared off with them many, many times before. I knew the insurance business like the back of my hand, which is a large part of the reason I was hired. Without Andrea, I would have been totally lost. I haven’t come across very many people in my 44 who displayed the level of professionalism she possessed while being completely and totally down to earth. In our department, there were four paralegals (Andrea, Carolyn, Katie and me) and we all recognized, almost immediately that we would be friends for life. That is so very rare, unfortunately, among female co-workers. Andrea and I were also connected through others that I can’t mention but trust me when I tell you, that connection gave us many hours of laughter.
Even after I left Denver in July 2007, I never lost contact with her. We emailed almost daily. On January 18, 2008, I received an email from her that caused me to drop to my knees. In a way that only Andrea could do it, she told me that she had been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and would begin treatment immediately. There was no big production, no overly dramatic statements. She just said she had it and would be getting treatment. I was stunned and cried for hours after getting that email. Over these years, through all that treatment, not once did she feel sorry for herself. We spoke often about why this may have happened to her and quite often, she said that she believed that God put this upon her because she was strong enough to handle it. I wholeheartedly agreed. She continued to make her mark in the legal community as an AWESOME attorney, which is something she loved. When I met her, she was working full-time as a paralegal and attending law school after work. She didn’t miss work. She continued to do her job. She continued to be a stellar mom to Ashly.
What made Andrea, Andrea is the fact that right up to the very end, her concern was with others. On the morning of February 11, I posted to Facebook that I was at Baylor. Almost immediately, she commented, “Why?”. I in turn, commented, “School.” We had a short exchange thereafter with her telling me how well she thought I would do. Later that night when I posted about Whitney Houston’s passing, again, Andrea was the first to comment. After that, I knew that things had gotten bad because she was rarely on FB and our Words With Friends games were going slowly. On Valentine’s Day, I posted, “Happy Valentine’s Day” to her and she didn’t respond. I knew things were bad because she never failed to respond to me. That night, I texted her and in my spirit, I knew that it was likely the last time I would hear from her. My first text was, “Hey, just checking on you.” She (or someone in her stead) wrote back and said, “Who is this?”. After the next few texts, I knew she was not writing for herself. I won’t say how I knew, but I know for a fact that it wasn’t her writing me back.
On Thursday, just as it was the case when Leah passed on, my spirit was restless. I did my best to go about things normally but didn’t really want to be around anyone that day. I had almost finished running around and was very close to home when I heard the Facebook messenger tone. I knew, without even looking that it was bad news. I didn’t stop right away but I glanced down to see that it was Carolyn writing. I knew, for sure, that it was bad news about Andrea. That day, I ended up sitting in an empty parking lot, crying, screaming and trying to catch my breath. She was gone. There will be no more foolish chats. There will be no more exchanges with us wondering how we now have teenagers. She won’t be writing again to make I’m not stressing so I won’t have another hemorrhage.
Even though I feel a void that can/will never be filled by another person, I am also at peace. Andrea is no longer hurting. She is no longer dealing with needles and blue chemo. She left here just as she lived – not complaining but pushing on. There are so many ill-spirited, hateful people in this world. I believe, from the bottom of my heart that God blesses us with people like Andrea so that we know of His goodness.