I’ve been thinking a lot lately about legacies.
You see, on May 7, we lost Babz.
I need to say that I haven’t known Babz for very long: only about a year. A little more than a year ago, I did a gig for my friend Carrie. The play was called Dying City, and it was directed by Ben Ratner. Ben and I got to know each other a bit through working together, and one night he called me up and told me that the current admin person at the Babz Chula Society was leaving, and would I be interested?
I was heading into summer, and wanted as little work as possible, but it didn’t sound like a big job, maybe just a few hours per week. I’d lost my mom to cancer a year previous, and knew Babz from her work. I thought, “my mom’s gone, her fight is over, but maybe I can help this person a little bit.” I was unsure if I could take it on, but agreed to meet Babz.
I met Babz on April 3 last year. We met at Delaney’s, and I remember she had a cinnamon bun and a soy latte. She bemoaned her food choices (trying to avoid sugar is part of an anti-cancer diet), but characteristically enjoyed every bite.
We talked about many things: mutual friends, being an actor, my mom, our kids and the cancer. I spoke the language of cancer, and she was always very forthcoming about the details of her disease. I came away from that meeting knowing that I already loved this amazing, stubborn, vibrant woman, and that I would do whatever I could to help her fight. That was Babz. You loved her the moment you met her. You couldn’t help it.
Over the last year, there’s been many meetings, Thai and Chinese food, a new website, emails, discussions about fundraisers, chemo, and many, many hugs.
I last saw Babz in late December at a Society meeting. Babz was leaving shortly for 6 weeks in India. At the end, I gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and how excited I was for her trip, and that I’d see her when she got back.
Shortly after she came back (feeling fabulous, by the way), she took a turn for the worse, and the doctors said the cancer was in her liver, and they were done. We knew it was only a matter of time. I tried many times to get to see her, but between my work and her bad days, I never was able to.
Going through some old emails the other day, I found this one, dated December 14.
Rebecca. It is early-ish on Monday morning and I’m struck by an
image of you in my apartment last week when you came to make the
video blog. I want to tell you how much I appreciate you…how
wonderful you are at what you do, certainly, but more than that…the
person you are. Beyond what you are doing for the Society, it is the
way you do things…the grace and dignity with which you execute all
your actions, and I am so pleased to know you and so very honoured to
have you on my side.
That’s it. That’s all. I’m buzzing around here trying to get going
and you kept popping into my head…as you have for days. I needed
to tell you what I think and I wanted to thank you for everything.
Hope to see you soon at our dinner and if that doesn’t happen, then I
wish you a lovely holiday and I will see you when I return from
the…uh…continent. Ahem. Love. Really. Love. babz chula
That was Babz. Prepping for a trip to India, dealing with chemo, and yet she still had the time to send me a really wonderful email.
Which brings me back to legacies. Babz has left many: the Society, which will continue on in her name, and help others, a remarkable body of work, and many, many people who loved her, of which I am one.
You see, I went into this whole thing hoping that I could help someone out. But I probably got more from Babz than she did from me in the short time we knew each other.
She showed me that, no matter how tough things are, no matter how desperate, there’s always someone else worse off than you. And that person could maybe use a helping hand. And that love, while it can’t cure cancer, can make an impact on your life you never thought possible.
I love you, Babz. You live always in my heart.
Thank you for posting this, Rebecca. I am getting ready to go to Babz’ celebration of life (under this pouring rain) and my main reason was to be with Ken and meet some of his friends. You showed me the person I didn’t know and your words (and hers, on that amazing email) made me feel somehow connected. I do want to celebrate her life and the lives she touched.
Thank you for posting this. She was a beautiful person.