When I first met my husband, I didn’t like him much. He says, he was "a confident young man”. I say, a little too confident. He eventually won over my heart and we’ve been married for more than a decade.
Love stories aren’t the only ones that start this way. Sometimes friendships do to. Throughout my years as a journalist, I met a lot of people. Many passed through my life. Some stayed with me.
Loretta Schultz is one of those people. When I first met Loretta, I was doing a story with her and two other breast cancer survivors about their book, "Double-Breasted Suits for Single-Breasted Women.” While I was doing the interview, I felt like I really connected with the two other women. Neppie Trahan is a bubbly, outgoing lady and Martha Falterman was sharing pictures of her daughter and grandson.
I had a harder time relating to Loretta. My first impression was that she had a tough exterior and I was having a hard time cracking it. I went on my way and wrote my story that day.
But, Loretta kept coming back into my life.
She was a beautiful artist (her first love before having to get a "real” job, I remember her telling me). Loretta’s pencil sketch of a single breasted woman was selected in an international art exhibit and was going to be displayed in a gallery in London. I did a story about her achievement and when she left KATC that day, I hugged her good-bye. Maybe I had cracked her exterior or she cracked mine.
Loretta told me from day one that she shouldn’t be alive. Her cancer was aggressive and she had been through atleast two stem cell transplants, plus many other surgeries and treatments. We’d email each other once in a while.
Two years ago, I emceed the Komen Acadiana Race. I’ll never forget looking down and seeing Loretta sitting on the steps in Parc San Souci. I sat next to her and put my head on her shoulder. I was so happy to see her! Maybe because she said she was on borrowed time, I was more aware and embraced these moments.
I have to admit, every time we left each other, I wondered, is it the last time?
Then I came to work at Miles Perret Cancer Services and who shows up for pilates? Loretta! She said, "I wondered where you went,” in her matter of fact voice.
This summer, Eli Lilly’s "Oncology on Canvas” art exhibit came to Lafayette. When I started to read about the exhibit, it got me thinking. Could this be the same art exhibit Loretta was chosen for in London? I emailed right away. It was!
I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe God knows what we need in our lives.
I needed Loretta to teach me that I should wake up each day and truly be thankful for the time I have with the people that I love.
Loretta passed away at her home on Tuesday, January 12 after a courageous battle with cancer.