For Ilana

For Ilana

Two years ago today I lost a very dear friend.  I can’t actually believe that the world has continued to go on for two years without her. My life became frozen at the moment I got the phone call, hearing the words “She didn’t make it” and not being able to understand what they meant.

It’s as though I entered a parallel universe the moment I heard those words and, though I’ve continued living, I feel as if I’m always straining to get back to the real world where she still is.

Life has been surreal. What sense it used to make is absolutely gone.

In the real world, the rules wouldn’t allow for someone like her to die.  She was needed by so many people. I still needed her. I need her now and she’s gone.

It’s still not possible for me to believe.


  1. Julian
    Jan 19, 2012

    This brought tears to my eyes. I feel exactly the same about a friend I lost four years ago.

    I’m sorry, there are no words I can say to make this any easier for you. But I can offer hugs, and understanding.
    And the knowledge that Ilana is still there, in your belief and love.

  2. Madeleine
    Jan 20, 2012

    Bless you Ruth, that is so moving. I can so feel the pain and loss you have suffered from those words.
    Virtual hugs x

  3. Theresa
    Jan 22, 2012

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have just finished reading Whole and Breathe. I loved them both, but were wondering if you have any plans for a book for Elizabeth and Ethan’s future? I would love to have more from their characters. Your books are so easy to read. I did not want to put it down. Please continue bringing such awesome stories.
    Best Wishes,
    Theresa from Louisiana

    • RuthMadison
      Jan 23, 2012

      I’m so happy to hear from you! Thanks for writing. You know, when I first wrote (W)hole there was no plan for it to have a sequel. But then people read it and wrote to me telling me that Elizabeth’s story wasn’t finished. I saw that they were right. So now I think it would be interesting to continue to write about Elizabeth and to follow her life as she grows and has new experiences.

      And thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts over the loss of my friend. It’s always so stunning when it happens to you, isn’t it? You always think dying is for people on the periphery of your life, not the central characters.

  4. Beverly Diehl
    Jan 23, 2012

    Oh Ruth, I am so sorry. Regardless of what we might believe about coming together again in heaven/another life, it sucks to lose somebody we love for the rest of *this* one.

    One thing that has helped me is the idea that the relationship doesn’t have to end, we don’t have to “get over” and forget about the person. True, you can’t pick up the phone and call her, or go to the movies together, or whatever your relationship entailed, but you can still talk to her. Write her a letter, blow her a kiss… When people love each other, the love goes on, and it’s clear how much you loved her.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. Lexi
    Jan 23, 2012

    Ruth- I was a biology student of Ilana’s who was very close to her. Even though I’m a freshman in college now, I still think of her frequently, especially with the anniversary of her death last week; I was searching for the Guestbook for her funeral and found your very fitting tribute. You should consider yourself very lucky to be one of her close friends; she was an absolutely amazing person who is truly missed by her students. She was a wonderful inspiration for all of us–she inspired one of my friends to major in physics, another one to become a doctor, and gave me a wonderful example as an education major. Thank you for writing about your experiences after hearing about her death. I understand exactly where you’re coming from: in the real word, the rules shouldn’t allow something so horrible to happen to such a wonderful person.

    • RuthMadison
      Jan 23, 2012

      I am so touched that you left a comment! Thank you. She really loved teaching and it seemed like her students loved her back. I know her funeral was certainly packed.

      She was my closest friend and the closest friend I’ve ever had. I don’t know how I will ever replace that position in my life.

      I always turned to her for advice. We thought so very much alike. She always knew what to say. I feel so lost without her.

      It’s so good to hear that you and your friends were so inspired by her. I love that she lives on in that way, that people remember her and talk about her.

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