Her Last Words

As toddlers we may be scared of bugs. Children might fear the dark. Adolescents may dread what others think of them. Adults’ concerns can be relationships, careers, homes, money, family and much more. The elderly might experience new anxieties as dear friends their age pass away. As PKD warriors, our health can create trepidation. It is easy to get wrapped up in future thoughts and worries. We hear expressions like ‘make the most of every day’ and ‘live like there is no tomorrow.’ At times this is easier said than done, but we are instantly reminded of the importance and validity of these words when a tragic event happens in our lives.

On July 3, 2014, I suddenly lost a dear friend. Barbara Lane Crowell was on a morning bicycle ride before work on Foresthill Road near Auburn, CA when she was struck by a pickup truck. The California Highway Patrol reported that the fatal crash occurred about 6:40 a.m. The driver of the 1988 Toyota pickup was arrested on a felony driving-under-the-influence allegation and sweet Barbara at 52 years old was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

I met Barbara at my previous place of employment, NTD Architecture. She, too, was a Pennsylvania native. We quickly became friends and our bond grew stronger since February 2013 when I was unable to work due to my back injury. For the past year and a half, besides my husband, Barbara is the one person I have been around the most. We kept in touch often and got together frequently. She and I shared a love for sushi and would have lunch together at Hanami Sushi. When I had a seizure in March, she rushed over to be with me until Noah was able to get home from work.

Barbara Crowell

Barbara had an aura and certain traits that reminded me of my mom. I never met anyone before that could possess such qualities. I realized this after the first time Barbara hugged me. It was the closest feeling of what my mom’s hugs feel like. She was so supportive and encouraging through my health trials. She exuded such happiness and zest for life. Barbara was very health conscientious and an avid cyclist, extremely fit. She was a talented architect, caring friend who loved her children and family, immensely. We corresponded often through email. Always ending with a “miss you,” “love you” and/or “xoxo.” The last communication I had with Barbara was at 2:30 p.m. on July 1, 2014. We were planning our next lunch get-together, which was to take place on July 10, 2014. The last words in the last sentence of the last email I will ever receive from her read, “I’m needing a Valen hug.” My heart aches to know this is the last thing she wrote to me.

We all have our own worries, lives and individual stories. Some of great triumph, while others of quiet bliss. Most of us try so hard each day. To take the best care of ourselves and find our way to contribute to society. When we are reminded how fleeting life can be, it makes one ponder on why we are so hard on ourselves. Although we may fear current trials and the unknown of the future, let’s not be scared of living. I am asked quite often how I have remained so positive in life. The answer is easy. I am grateful every day to take a deep breath of fresh air. I am profoundly in love with my husband and want to enjoy as many days as I can with him. I am thankful for the times I am able to embrace my parents and loved ones for you never know when your last hug may be. I will forever wish and long to give Barbara the ‘Valen hug’ she needed. In honor of Barbara, please wrap your arms around those you love. Barbara, I hope you can feel my love and warm embrace.

All my love and condolences go out to Barbara’s son and daughter; Jared Putnam and Adele Putnam, her life partner Dave Liberti and to all of her family and friends.


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