A couple years ago, I lived in Austin, Texas and fell into the poetry scene. I met a poet named Gabrielle, and loved her personality. She was a beautiful bold redhead, and most importantly, a poet. As I began to make friends at the venue, I'd make it a point to ask if she was coming out that night or if anyone had heard from her. After all, the night was always better when she was there, and I looked forward to hearing her poetry.
I didn't see her for a couple months and then one night she walked into the venue. Immediately, I went to her and asked, "Where have you been? I haven't seen you in forever!" And she replied, "Oh, I've been sick, I haven't really felt like coming out lately." When I asked if she was okay, she told me that she'd been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer. I was devastated, but I had to keep it together as if I was on a stage standing before her. She told me she didn't feel like talking about it and sort of laughed it off. I told her it was fine, took her up her offer to catch up later and walked away. Just like that, everything changed. I was angry with my friends, asking them why they didn't tell me sooner, though it wasnt their confession to tell.
She only showed up one more time, and boy, did she shine. Wearing a black beret, a beautiful black dress, and a stand of pearls, she read the last poem she'd ever perform on stage. It broke all our hearts, but I'm sure everyone in the room could agree that there has never been anyone braver in their lives than her. She took the world by storm one last time.
Soon after, Gabs (as we called her) went into hospice. When she passed away a few weeks later, my friends and I had a get together that night and everyone wore bunny ears. Gabrielle had a saying, "Bunny up!" Her message to everyone was to be bold, live life with no regrets, and love life -- bunny up! Her last poem said all of those things, and there are no words to explain just how brave of a move that was. A poet who had cancer, telling her audience to be brave...
When her friends and I miss her, we go on youtube and watch her last performance. When we miss her a lot, we tell her on her facebook page. I think everyone likes to believe she's reading her posts. Photos of bunnies reminds me of her, as do women with beautiful long red hair. Sometimes, I think they're her, until they turn around anyway. Gone, but definitely not forgotten, her message lives on and she's still here with us. Whether it's in the reminder of a bunny, or a beautiful red headed woman, she's here. Like an angel on my shoulder, I guess you could say, always reminding us to bunny up. :)
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