See You Later, Leslie Farrell
Back a long time ago in what seems like another age, I met a woman at Brite Divinity School. Angi worked part time for the school while also attending classes. Often we worked in the computer lab at the same time. We began a conversation that led us both into talking about our partners, our lives, our churches. Somewhere in the conversation, the inevitable conversation about the Diocese of Fort Worth came up. I remember clearly her saying, “You need to talk to my partner, Leslie.”
Sometime after that, Leslie and I did begin an email conversation. We talked mostly of things spiritual. She was basically in the process of leaving the Episcopal Church simply because Angi was going through Divinity School and was not really interested in being a priest/preacher in the Episcopal Church. I could understand that. The Episcopal Church in Dallas was/is not much more affirming to gays and lesbians, especially those in partnerships, than is the Church in Fort Worth.
We all wanted to get together for dinner – us go to Dallas or them come to Fort Worth. We wanted to all meet because we knew that we could be friends. But Leslie kept having flu-like symptoms so we kept putting it off. I remember clearly the email that I got from Leslie telling me that she had been diagnosed on Christmas Eve with leukemia…Ph+ ALL. That was just after Christmas three years ago? I think three years. I know that it was soon determined that the prognosis for her living very long without a bone marrow transplant was not very long. But she did.
At one point, we all arranged to meet at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth for a healing service. We just wanted to touch her, to feel the presence of the Spirit within us all, healing her, making her whole. We can only guess what power existed within that short time we were actually able to meet together. Little did we know how Holy she already was.
She continued in her own indomitable way, refusing to give in, continuing to hope and to fight and to live. When a bone marrow donor match could not be found, she continued to fight on. She became a human guinea pig, subjecting herself to new techniques, trial drugs, all with the hope that if it didn’t cure her, it would give hope to someone else. She had a stem cell transplant. Then there was a relapse. They did a second transplant. Too soon, there was another relapse. Still, she fought on.
I know nothing at this time of posting. On Sunday, Angi posted the news that they were waiting…the fevers had gotten so high and so prolonged that the prognosis of coming out of it was not good. Leslie was responding only to the pain. Yesterday the news was that she and all her loved ones gathering at her bedside were saying goodbye. Leslie elected to stop all blood products and antibiotic treatment. She was ready for her “new adventure”.
I love Leslie. She is passionate, persistent and full of righteous indignation that people can be so lax and even mean. She is an awesome witness to the love of God. She sees an injustice and wants to fight to correct it. She helped motivate me on several occasions to speak out in truth and love. She and Angi together make such a statement of faith simply by living.
Even to this point, Leslie is giving. Regardless of what the treatments did or didn’t do for her, the trials she participated within, the essays she wrote about the tragedy of our under-insured nation, her testimonies as to the truth of what it means to give blood and blood products, these all a part of Leslie’s giving way of living. Her faith in God, her love of life gave more in her simple everyday actions than she might ever know. She gave with every breath she took, every word she wrote.
So, we wait, knowing full well that it is possible that she is already gone.
But Leslie will live on…I will miss her probing emails, her sense of righteous indignation but she will continue to live on in our hearts forever. As a result, she will continue to give.
We aren’t saying goodbye to Leslie. We will just say “See you later, Leslie. We love you.”.