1989 – I was just starting my career as a dietitian working at UCLA. Within 3 months I myself was a patient over the Thanksgiving holiday and trying not to experience the hospital food my patients complained about but it was inevitable. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever been in the hospital for an extended period of time.
Then something magical happened. A colleague I had not yet met heard about my plight and stopped by my room to tell me she was sending me food from Wilson Pavilion, UCLA’s food that only served the lucky patients.
Her name was Donna. She was like an angel who came to visit me each day and see how I was doing. But it was not just a drop in. She would stay and talk about how I was doing, life in the nutrition world and goals and dreams. She was in school to become an R.D. which eventually became a reality. She wanted a good man in her life and several years later she married an amazing man named Skip.
Conversation with Donna was easy; it took my mind off my pain and gave me a new friend to look forward to when I returned to work. She had the wonderful food sent to me each meal and when you’re in the hospital it can be a highlight of your day in the midst of pain shots, doctor’s visits and having to experience things one does not want to repeat in their lifetime.
Unfortunately when I left UCLA I lost touch with my friend Donna. She was struggling with ovarian cancer and left UCLA a few months ago.
This week Donna died after years of a courageous battle with cancer. She fought hard and will be sorely missed by many. I had told her how important she had been to me many times while we worked at UCLA.
This holiday season is a loss for her family and others she touched. Perhaps part of Donna’s legacy can continue with the beautiful wisdom and kindness she imparted on me and that’s really what life’s about – the benevolence to one another not only at the holiday season but life long.