My friend Anita died last night.

The news hit me today in the CNN newsroom like the blast of a bomb. I had fully intended to go visit her after my return to Atlanta this week. Now, I will never see her again.I will never hear her infectious laugh again. It made my husband Kevin’s bursting laugh seem demure.

 I probably never would have had the journalism career I have if it had not been for Anita. My resume landed on her desk somehow, and she wanted to hire me on the national copy desk. I will be forever grateful to her for having faith in me.

 Anita fought cancer for many years. Thursday night, she lost the battle. She left behind a beautiful daughter, Kc, who will now have to navigate life without the nurturing of her mother.

 Tomorrow, I journey to San Francisco, to be with another strong woman in my life — my aunt, my father’s little sister. I grew up calling her Phoolpishi, which means aunt of the flowers, her bloom faded with years of physical suffering.

Like with Anita, her cancer is back with a vengeance. Like Anita, she is strong. A fighter like I could never be.

She has endured and survived and is still with hope.I did not get a chance to see Anita again. Not on this earth anyway. But I will see my Phoolpishi tomorrow. And when I do, I will hear Anita’s laugh surround me, fill me with warmth like an old English hearth on a bone-chilling day.

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