Stefanie Marie Beasley, 27, died much too young.
She is not the first to die much too young. She will not be the last to die much too young.
It doesn't mean it sucks any less.
Stefanie died on June 29, 2012, after a seven-year battle with cancer, leaving behind a daughter, Briana, the light of her life.
She and her older sister were the best childhood friends two brothers could have. We lived across the street from each other through all of my middle school years and part of my high school years. Stefanie was about the same age as my younger brother, and her older sister was about the same age as me. We did just about everything together those few years – water gun wars, bike riding, backyard baseball. We even put together our own version of the Olympics.
We were the kind of neighborhood friends Beverly Cleary would have written about.
But like many of my friends growing up, I lost contact with Stefanie when I went to college. I saw her just a handful of times since. I know very little about the wonderful woman and mother she grew up to be.
To me, she always will be the neighborhood friend with a tomboy streak and a fantastic smile.
According to her obituary:
Stefanie always had a smile that lit up a room and always made you feel like you were her best friend.
It's true. Her smile is what I remember most about her. Warm, genuine, you could feel it from across the street. And she and her sister certainly felt like my best friends during those years we were neighbors.
There are hundreds of people in my life who are mostly memories now. I might interact with them a few times on Facebook, but for the most part what's left of our relationship is the few months or years we saw each other on a semi-regular basis.
But I will never forget any of those people. They will always have a special and permanent place in my heart for as long as I live. In Stefanie's case, even after they pass.
Stefanie Marie Beasley was a great friend growing up, and my life assuredly was better having had her in it.
Again, I'll quote from the obituary.
We love you, Stefanie, and will never forget you.
As for cancer, Stefanie's sister might have put it best on her Facebook page.
Screw you, cancer.
• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. You can donate to the American Cancer Society by clicking here. For those of you who knew Stefanie, if you click on the link to her obituary, there are instructions on how to donate to her daughter's college fund.
Filed under: Columns