It had been a long time since I hugged so many people.

Reunions do that; they make you want to physically connect with people. Only this reunion was actually a celebration of life.

Kirsten Johnson Loy was 59 when she died last year. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of when she was first diagnosed with cancer.

That same month she started her blog, which she called Consider It Joy. Who titles it that when they are diagnosed with stage four cancer? Kirsten. That’s who.

She didn’t sugar coat her life, but she also kept much of the nitty gritty out of print. We knew of hard days, but only those who were there knew how hard they really were and how many there were.

Her love of family, friends and god sustained her all those years.

Kirsten Johnson Loy touched more lives than probably even she knew.

On her Instagram page her bio says, “Mom, writer, teacher, mentor, friend, wife, but to sum me up is to know I am a flawed woman who loves a flawless God.”

On Facebook she has 1,289 friends. My guess is they are all really friends.

After all, about 500 people were at her celebration of life on March 11. And it definitely was a celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at an occasion like this.

Kirsten would have loved it. Of course, she did orchestrate it all. Honestly. She readily admitted she was a control freak. She could laugh about it. But it didn’t temper the controlling.

The service was full of stories, some scripture, music, and more stories. It’s always hard to encapsulate a life in a short essay or a couple hours.

I knew Kirsten for nearly 50 years. Her younger sister is one of my dearest friends. I was instrumental in writing their dad’s obit; a bit daunting considering they are both terrific writers. Her mom is one of my mom’s best friends. We knew many of the same people from having grown up in Concord. Many of them were there on Saturday. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. Unfortunately, it’s deaths that now bring us together instead of weddings.

We really ought to plan a party so we can all be there.

Kirsten reached out to me and others a few years ago wanting help with writing a book about her journey with cancer. I don’t know where it stands now, but I hope one of her friends puts all the pieces together and gets it published. Kirsten was an inspiration. Her words should live on so more people can know her.

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