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You know the best thing about death? How’s that for an opening sentence?! Read on.

The best thing about death is that it can bring us back together. In my early 20’s, after about 10 years of horrific cramps that would have me throwing up and bed ridden, a doctor finally mentioned endometriosis to me. Luckily, the internet was finally a thing, so I went online to do research about it, and found the Endometriosis Research Center (ERC). And more importantly, I found a supportive community of women who had been through and were going through what I was. They were incredible. Smart, funny, kind. They gave me the info I needed to make informed decisions, and supported me with every one of those decisions, whether they agreed with them or not. They were everything a support group should be. They helped me set up a local in-person support group in FL so that I could do the same for other women. They were my endosisters.

After a couple years, several other asshats women joined and started turning everything very negative. There was backstabbing and flaming, accusations of all kinds of ridiculous things…basically everything that I hate about the internet. So the online forum got shut down. They tried several other incarnations, but the same thing kept happening. After awhile, I lost touch with many of the women who had been so important in my life. I kept in touch with a few when I joined Facebook, including a woman named Mary. When you look up “selfless” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of her. She was awesomesauce. She had a hard life because of her health. Endometriosis rarely comes on it’s own. It usually brings other immunological friends along with it to party hard (picture the aftermath of the party in Sixteen Candles, but inside our bodies). On Sunday, she passed away unexpectedly from an asthma attack. I got back to town on Tuesday and checked my Facebook page and saw stuff pop up on other endosisters’ pages about it and was shocked.

So, I reached out via a group message to the women from the ERC that I’m still in touch with, expressing my grief in our shared loss. And one of those women started a new private forum for us old timers. And now, suddenly, I’m back in touch with women that were a huge part of my life 15 years ago. And let me tell you, these women are badass. Bad. Ass. Seriously. Just when I’ve been feeling very down and whiny about my own health because of the fibromyalgia/arthritis flare up, I get caught up on the hell-and-back through which these women have travelled over the last few years. I’ve got zero reason to complain in comparison. The bravery in this group is amazeballs.

And just like the old days, we’re already willing to cry together and crack each other up. Everyone is being open and honest about their personal lives in a way you don’t normally see, and we’re accepting each other’s mistakes and flaws without judgment, just happy to be back together. Out of Mary’s death is coming a renewed sense of community. So while my sadness over Mary is sharp, so is the joy in the knowledge that she helped foster such a strong group of survivors. She would be proud of her legacy. Mary, we’ll miss you, but we’re thankful to have had you in our lives.