Columbus Irish: Beep Beep, Myrtle – Remembering My Friend Darcy
By: by Maureen Ginley
I have started this column, deleted its contents, and re-started it several times. I’ve tried to begin with a quote; a comparison to literary friendships across American, British, and world literature; and even a recap of an afternoon in the Writing Center at John Carroll. But nothing seems adequate, or even right enough, to lead into an article in which I grieve the loss of a dear friend who was also a beloved wife, cherished daughter, amazing sister, loving cousin, and adored teacher to so many.
Similar to when I’ve lost loved ones in the past, I’ve turned to writing as I navigate this challenging time. My friendship with Darcy was rooted deeply in a love for the written word, so I can think of no better way than to honor my friend/editor/teacher than to write about her here.
I don’t remember when I met Darcy Egan; I simply remember us being friends. I recall hearing her name during my first few semesters at John Carroll — she was the very smart sophomore in the English Department who went to St. Joseph Academy. She grew up on the west side of Cleveland, near to my family. Our brothers knew each other from their time together in the St. Edward hockey program.
Our lives had been intertwined for years, yet our paths didn’t cross until our time at JCU. And when we were both on campus, it was as if we had been friends for years.
This sense of comfort laid the foundation for a friendship filled with lots of literature, countless donuts, more than a few lattes, and thank you notes and other letters mailed back and forth. I’ve never had a friend quite like Darcy. She was a teacher to me, a role model, a confidant, and someone who I shared many mutual (and sometimes silly) interests with.
Darcy taught me to never undervalue my worth, and to rock a bold lip whenever I had the opportunity to. I watched her go from degree program to degree program (the girl had TWO master’s degrees), working hard to always learn more. This perseverance is a quality I admire greatly.
I often confided in her – about school, work, my writing, and more – and she never wavered in her support, always offering advice. I know she was this type of friend for many, many people. Our mutual appreciation for cheesy ABC dramas, sweets, and puppies led to countless afternoons during which we’d marathon Grey’s Anatomy, munch on some Dunkin (and after they opened – Brewnuts), and exchange cute photos of dogs via text and Instagram.
Darcy, even as she faced her own challenges, sought to ensure that her family and friends always knew they were loved. Whether in the form of a text message, a handmade card, a thank you note, a Facebook tag on an Office or Fall-themed meme, she constantly reminded those in her life that they were appreciated and cherished. I loved a lot of things about Darcy, but the way in which she cared for her loved ones is something I loved too.
I saw this love in action a lot over the past few years. When I received a save-the-date for her and her husband Robert’s wedding, I cried I was so happy. Darcy had been texting me each day after she asked for my new address asking, “did you get my postcard yet,” and when the mail finally arrived, I was giddy.
Flash forward to April of this year at her wedding; I was sitting at a table in the Lake Erie Building, crying happily as she and Robert swayed back and forth during a dance at their reception. I was sitting at a table of strangers, but in that moment as we watched the newlyweds dance, I felt as if I were surrounded by old friends. How lucky am I that my first friend wedding was such a loved-up (and dessert-filled) event?!
In addition to witnessing the relationship between Darcy and Robert develop and flourish, I have been blessed in knowing her parents and brother – Kelly, Cheryl, and Riley. When I popped on over to their house to prepare yellow car decorations for our Great Gatsby party, or even to spend an afternoon watching the Seattle Grace gang on TV and snack on some dones, I could see how much the Egans care for and love each other. I see so much of her in her parents and brother – and I am so grateful the world has Darcy living on in them.
After she was diagnosed with colon cancer, Darcy did not slow down. She didn’t stop learning, advocating, teaching, and being a friend. I was constantly in awe of her tenacity through everything that was thrown her way. Despite multiple appointments, rounds of chemo, and challenging news, she didn’t stop being an incredible friend, thoughtful daughter, goofy cousin, and caring wife. She often sought to turn her situation into a positive one – aiming to educate people about colon cancer awareness, early detection and prevention, and support for those going through a similar fight.
At the Cleveland UndyRun, her team, Darcy and the Polyps (this year with PositiviDEE) grew in size year after year. In fact, this year the team clocked in at over 300 members – it was the largest in the country! She served as a Never 2 Young Advisory Board Member for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Darcy shared her story on morning news shows in the hopes that it would help raise awareness for the cause, and speak to those dealing with similar situations.
Darcy made those around her want to be better, to do more. She had that way about her – she made people’s lives brighter. In sharing lessons she learned from her grandfather, she once said that the Irish do things right, and that showing up for the people you love is all that matters. Both of these sentiments are extremely true.
Thank you for showing up for us, Darcy. I will always miss you. Tá grá againn duit (I love you).
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