When I was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I went through the universal reaction process. I didn't understand it, I tried to live my daily life as I always had, and I kept quiet about the disease in an attempt to deny it any meaningful sway. Naturally, that didn't last long. I began searching the web for information about the disease, and that led me to We Are Crohn's, a social network website dedicated to patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It was there that I made first contact with many who have formed the nucleus of my support system.
Brenda Hines Dumont did not suffer from either disease, but her daughter does. Brenda was one of the most passionate advocates and supporters I've known in the seven years since I "met" her. It wasn't enough for her to learn about how to care for her daughter. She took many of us under her wing, offering an open ear when we needed to vent and a kind word when we needed that. She saw us as more than our diseases, happy to talk with us about any number of subjects from politics to film. She shared my penchant for frequently changing profile avatars, my love for Lawrence of Arabia and I introduced her to the music of Melody Gardot.
She was an attentive reader of my writings, including the content published on this blog. She was also instrumental in encouraging me to share my experiences with Crohn's disease and depression. Brenda insisted that I had a way with words that could help others, and that encouragement has been a guiding light for me. What Brenda reminded me every time we interacted was the importance of reaching out to others as best we can. She didn't have to connect with any of us. She could have learned what she needed to care for her daughter without cultivating friendships with a single member of We Are Crohn's.
Brenda was no lurker, though. She genuinely cared for people, driven by compassion and a strong belief in fairness. Often, I think we resist getting involved with things because we don't feel we're really a part of the in-group. What I will ultimately remember of my friend is that the only in-group that really matters is humanity itself. Where there is another person, there is something to share and something worth building up.
I close this memorial with one of my favorite clips from Lawrence of Arabia. It underscores the sense of humor and camaraderie that Brenda shared with me, and I am certain that she would appreciate it being brought up now.