Dear Orit

I met Orit, and her infant daughter Josephine, on the morning of March 28, 2009. It was at The Wild Oat — our favourite coffee spot. Mark and I had just finished recording our daily episode of JustOneMoreBook.

Orit introduced herself and joined us at our table for a lengthy, impromptu discussion of children’s books — more specifically, a description of the book she planned to write about a real life groundhog experience.

Her blasé confidence chafed at my flailing ego and I decided I’d avoid her.

Five months later, I found a lump. It was breast cancer and I spent nine months in treatment.

The following summer, I put out a call for sponsorship for the CIBC Run For the Cure. Orit donated generously. On October 1, 2010, Orit stopped her van in the middle of the street, during school drop-off, to cheerily wish me luck on that Sunday’s run.

The following fall, on the morning of September 20, 2011 and again in The Wild Oat, Orit appeared at our table. She leaned in and asked earnestly, “I was wondering if we could go for coffee.”

Scanning her, I blurted, “Do you have bad news?”

During the deafening silence that followed, my inner critic kicked me for my thoughtless response. Then, “Yes,” she responded “I have a nasty little breast cancer.”

I hugged her and our friendship was formed.

During the nine months that followed, we walked and talked regularly with our good friend, Laurie. In snow. In slush. In real life. Online. We swapped breast cancer stories. We shared advice. We drank tea. We formed FrivolKnitty and yarnbombed our ‘hood. Then rebounded, resiliently, when months of knitting was almost immediately slashed off and binned.

On June 21, Orit offered me a spare ticket to the next night’s performance by Jerry Seinfeld. I had plans and declined but Orit and her husband, Sean, took in the evening of comedy. The following day, Orit was admitted to hospital and six days later she died. Torn from three young children and a loving husband in her, cliche’d, prime.

I was in shock.

Today we buried our beautiful Orit.

The past three days, I’ve thought of nothing else.

Looking back now, I see that Orit’s prognosis was obviously bleak. But during the ten months since then, Orit lived absolutely. She bravely faced any and every possible treatment. She delved into the academics of the disease. She swam. She socialized. She bought a puppy. She shopped for a cottage. She installed a deck and hot tub. She enjoyed blueberry pancakes at the Elgin Street Diner. And she traveled — lots.

Orit was up for anything.
She was as much a part of life as any of us.

She was private. She was realistic.
She did not mope.

Then she suddenly, privately, quietly died.

During the two years between my diagnosis and hers, it was not Orit who fretted about every twinge, bump and symptom. It was not Orit who scanned the horizon for incoming doom. It was not Orit who lived in fear of a life cut short.

Orit lived. Bravely. Through pain, loss and uncertainty.
And she died only once.

Six years my junior.

Thank you, Orit, for your beautiful example of grace, courage, acceptance, spirit, spunk,  peace, humour and love.

Your essence has been imprinted on the hundreds who loved you. It’s made us better people. And will live long.


  • janice

    What a beautiful tribute, from one beautiful woman to another. I am very sorry for your loss, Andrea. I applaude your survival and ‘thrival’ and your lovely family.

    Lots of love and hugs.

    • Thank you, Janice.
      I am so sorry for Orit’s lovely, lovely family.

      Be well,

  • She sounds beautiful. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you, Coreen. I feel privileged to have known Orit.
      Be well,

  • Karie

    You said that so well. Thank you.

  • Barbara Martin

    My daughter Ashley was lucky enough to have Orit as a vocal teacher when Orit lived in Kenora Ontario. Ashley and I moved away several years before Orit and Sean moved to Ottawa. Orit’s instruction and her and Sean’s kindness meant so much to her. We did not know Orit was ill but heard she had died. Your tribute to Orit was touching and so true. Ashley and I were deeply saddened by her passing. Such a special light lost too soon.