While working out this morning Beyoncé’s song “Irreplaceable” came on. I always think about my friend Tonia when it plays because this is the last song to which she and I danced. With our arms raised and index fingers pointed high in the air, we swayed back and forth on the side of the road at Smith’s Point Fish Fry in Freeport, Bahamas.
“You must not know ‘bout me, you must not know ‘bout me,” we belted out to the unsuspecting passersby, nearly falling over from laughter (us, not them!) Less than two years later my friend was gone.
I can’t say she lost her life to cancer. I say instead that cancer is the vehicle God used, even if inexplicably so, to get a head start on spending an eternity with one of his favorites.
In some ways, we didn’t know ‘bout you, Tonia. We didn’t know the incredible strength you bore within, a strength that had steadily grown with each unfair and unkind hand you had been dealt. It is what made you laugh at my cheesy jokes when Claudine and I visited you, even as you lay there in excruciating pain. To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do other than what you and I did so well: make each other laugh.
Some of us didn’t know that the reason you externalized your hurt so boldly is because you internalized so deeply the love that you felt for those around you. For all of us, in all circumstances and in all things, hindsight is 20/20. For some of us the perfect vision of who you really were, and are, manifested only after you could no longer be seen.
Even today, Tonia, I see your smile and hear your voice, “you must not know ‘bout me…” My sweet friend, in many ways we didn’t know. But we know now. 
We miss you.
I miss you.
You’re irreplaceable.