In honor of Diane Proud
We stayed in touch with Diane after that, through e-mail, visits, phone calls - and for a while, she seemed strong enough to beat the disease. Although we had heard how ALS claims its victims, we felt confident Diane would be okay. She had a fiesty spirit and a strong will, and nothing was going to stop her from squeezing every drop out of life.
But the e-mails eventually stopped. Invitations were turned down. And the only thing we heard week after week was that "Diane needs to conserve her energy," "Diane is too tired," "Diane needs to take a raincheck." And then we saw her at Run Proud for Dessert, with big hugs and a bright smile, handing out cupcakes to runners. And then she was gone.
When we heard the news, our hearts dropped to the bottom of our stomachs, and we felt lost. At Live Wright, we always strive to discover the glimmers of light that turn dark moments into reflective ones. But when Diane passed, we were left wondering what happens when darkness really does take over, and the peals of laughter that came so easily before are drowned out by tears. How do we pay it forward when a woman, who lived by the strength of her mind and body, is left with nothing to reflect on?
Then we remembered Diane's powerful words. They still ring in our ears: "This disease SUCKS. So, let's find a CURE. And if we can't do that, I want my story to be passed on to help raise awareness for ALS."
So that's exactly what we are doing. We realized that Diane is the glimmer in the darkness of ALS, and her request to preserve her own legacy has brought us hope. She figured out, before any of us, how to battle the bad - by remembering, cherishing and spreading the good.
Diane is a hero.
She may not have lived to see a cure in her lifetime, but she was a shining example of what it means to have a life worth living. The influence of her unyielding spirit is palpable, and her love has moved us to spend every day appreciating what we have, striving to pay it forward the best we can.
We had already begun to preserve Diane's legacy when she was with us, and we are still collecting footage and pictures from those who loved her. Her story will be shown as part of a documentary to be debuted at The House of Blues in March 2012. If you have anything to contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raising our cupcakes to you, Diane.
For more information on Run Proud, visit runproud.org
Interviews by Milly Xu. Photography by Rose Huynh.