Remembering Andra

You can donate to Andra’s memorial fund here.

Yesterday, my friend Andra passed away after spending the better part of the last year fighting pancreatic cancer. Although I knew the news was coming, it did not make receiving it any less painful.

I met Andra while I lived in Istanbul and spent so many days with her exploring markets, seeing Antalya and sharing amazing meals. At one point, when I had to move back to Istanbul unexpectedly, Andra openly welcomed me to come stay at their place. Like she had for so many people, Andra opened her home without any hesitation, making me feel like a member of the family and always being so gracious when I did anything to help around the house. In that time, I shared breakfasts with the family, walks with GriGri and countless conversations with Andra. I learned about her time in India, Cote d’Ivoire and Japan. I was amazed and inspired by the rich life she had led. Andra taught me about water rights and the dire need to make water accessible to everyone. Because of her, I was inspired to get involved with Whatever we happened to be talking about, Andra would know so much about the topic. I remember, on many occasions, being in awe of how clever she was. And on top of all that, she was part of such a beautiful family, a family that is blessed to have had her be theirs.

“Running” in Antalya.
In this post, I wanted to talk about death, the uncertainties and doubts it raises in us. I wanted to talk about the unfairness of this devil called cancer. I wanted to pour out my grief. But as I remember Andra, as I write and think about her, I am not filled with those ugly feelings. I am filled with gratitude for having known her, thankfulness that people so beautiful exist that our heart breaks to see them go and remembrance that how we live our lives matters. It matters so much. Andra may no long be with us but her spirit and kindness will live on in her sons, her husband and the thousands she touched with her work and her kindness. May we all be lucky enough to leave such a beautiful legacy.

Andra, until we meet again, I once more offer the prayer I sent you last week. I pray that one day we are reunited under the shade of God’s mercy, free from pain, wanting and sadness. I pray that we are reunited with each other and all those that we love without any of the hindrances of our mortal bodies. I pray that fear leaves you and is so far away that it is a complete stranger to you. I pray that serenity and peacefulness are your bedfellows and the warmth and energy of the thousands that love you envelopes you and protects you. I pray for a garden where we sit under the sun, drink Turkish tea and eat nutella stuffed french toast without a care in the world.

I pray that you feel safe, at peace and ready for what dreams may come. I love you.