I have not written for a while because a month ago I received news that my good friend Angela, wife to Chris Faddis and mother of two young children, was told she would only have a week to a month left to live because her stage-four colon cancer was no longer manageable. This past Friday, she passed away. I sat down today to write about my beautiful friend and these are the words that came to me as I remember her.
“Do you live in Arizona? My friend wants to move there. Do you have any roommate suggestions for her?” inquired Gene from Apex Ministries upon meeting me at a Steubenville conference nine years ago.
“Actually, my friend Melanie H. needs a roommate,” I responded.
“Great, I will go get my friend, so you two can swap numbers,” he said as he was walking toward the exit. A few hours went by and Gene found me again at the conference and introduced me to his friend— Angela.
I suggested to Melanie that she should be open to living with this total stranger based on the few minutes I spent with her. Angela moved to town on her birthday, October 1, 2003. On August 26, 2012 just nine years later, I sat by Angela’s bedside re-painting her nails her favorite hot pink color. A few weeks prior, I brought a reddish color nail polish to Angela’s hospital room. Melanie Hart and I went to be with her and Melanie volunteered to give her a pedicure while I painted her nails as she laid in her hospital bed. This visit came just a day after the doctors told her there is nothing more they could do for her cancer. When I brought out the reddish color from my bag, she said “Melanie, that color is so old-lady. Don’t you have any hip, in-style colors?” I responded in such disagreement, “I thought my color was pretty hip.” She gave me this look like, “Come on, really?.” Melanie piped in and took Angela’s side. We all laughed because that was us…that was our relationship…blatantly honest knowing we could say just about anything and the other wasn’t going to take offense. That honesty only increased as I walked this past year and a half with her to her death.
We finished painting her nails and a few hours passed, and Angela revealed her innermost fears to us about her children not having their mother. We held each other tight, crying tears of sadness, and Mel and I assured her that we would love them and take care of them, and that all of our children would grow up as if they were brothers and sisters. We assured her that God was in the details, and we spoke about Heaven and what it would be like. It was the hardest and most emotional conversation I have ever encountered with a friend. It was surreal.
We could talk to her about Heaven because it is how our relationship began. The night she moved to Arizona into Melanie’s house we had a Bible study planned and instead of canceling because the “new girl” was arriving, we just invited her to participate, not knowing anything about her faith. We figured it would be better to just “baptize her by fire” and make her jump right into knowing who we are…Christ-centered-women. It’s ironic to think how much she has taught us about faith in the Lord in the past nine years!
When I would visit Angela, whether it be at the hospital or her home, I would record our conversations so that one day I could give them to her children. They will hear how much she loved them, her husband, her faith and her life. Over the past months, I have recorded many profound and beautiful insights. Listening to those recordings is how I find the most comfort now that my dear friend has passed away. It was on one of the recordings that I captured her final goodbye to me.
On that morning of August 26th, Angela’s husband Chris said he felt as though she was not going to make it much longer as she was showing signs of death. Sarah and I had already planned a visit that day, and I knew what I had to do! I entered her room, sat down and asked her how she was doing. A few minutes into the conversation, I said, “Do you want me to change your nail-polish to hot-pink?” I could not let my friend die in a color she didn’t delight in! She perked up. I could tell she was happy that I asked. “Yes, that would be great!” she replied. I was amazed to see that although she was so close to death, she still cared about the little things, like the color of her nails. Angela was never afraid to be herself or share her likes and dislikes. In her mind, even at that critical time, she was still living. She wasn’t planning what color nails she wanted to be buried with, she was thinking, “What color nails do I want this day that I am alive and able to enjoy them.” I loved being able to serve her in that silly way of painting her nails because it allowed me to be close to her, to feel normal with her for just a few minutes, and to show her that I was in this with her.
I wanted to paint forever. There were many people waiting to see her that day, and I wanted to have more to do so I could spend more time with her talking. Painting came to the end, and I said “It looks like the house is getting crowded. So many people are downstairs waiting to spend time with you.” Then I got serious, looked into her eyes while placing my hand on her arm and said, “You are beautiful my friend; I treasure you.” In her normal, soft, calm voice she replied, “Gosh, I don’t even know what I am supposed to say; I feel like this is supposed to my last words to everyone.” My heart sank hearing her say those words knowing shortly we would not be able to speak again on this earth. She went on to say, “I’m glad we met because you changed my life.” I replied, “And you changed mine.” Not knowing what more to say and not wanting her to feel like this was it– even though I knew this was it, I spoke up and said, “You don’t need to say last words; we will always be in each other’s lives forever.” She knew I meant “even from heaven” even though I didn’t say it. Then I tried to crack a joke, “I’ll probably come every day and then you will have to keep giving me last words and that will start to get awkward.” Angela, Sarah and I laughed big needing to break from the seriousness of it all.
Angela’s son Gus and my daughter Ella came in and interrupted us with their play. This felt like old times. I don’t think we have had a conversation since we gave birth that didn’t revolve around children interrupting. A ten minute conversation could take an hour to get through sometimes. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We loved the kids playing. We treated each other’s children as if they were our own family. The children were loud, but I continued to speak to her, “God’s in the details. We will all support and love each other.” I meant when she was gone, but again, I couldn’t say the words. She knew what I meant. Ang said, “I am so amazed that even when times I questioned ‘Why has this happened to me?,’ one thing I have always trusted and known is that God would put the right people in my life at the right time, and He has. He put all of you beautiful girls here for me in Arizona.
I reminded her, “Remember the first night— you, me, Sarah and Melanie reading the Bible together, wondering if we were going to freak you out. “ She piped in, “I felt right at home.” I echoed “Right at home.” Then she said so simply, “It was perfect.” I ended by saying, “I love you my friend.” We grabbed hands and prayed aloud together as we had done often throughout our friendship. I kissed her forehead and my daughter Ella got on Ang’s bed to give her a kiss, and I took the picture below. Then I looked at her and said begrudgingly, “I guess we better go.”
Our goodbye wasn’t something you would see in a movie or written in a Hallmark card. It was friends hanging out as usual having unscripted conversation. We said all that was needed to be said because we both knew how we felt about each other.
I saw Angela a few more times after that, but she was no longer capable of having that kind of long conversation. From then on, she slept most of the time and said very few things. I sat by her bedside and prayed on September 19th, just two days before she died. I tried to communicate with her and she did raise an eyebrow to me which seemed in and of its self to be a struggle. It was hard to see her in that condition. She was far worse than any other time I had been there. I knew it would not be long. My heart hurt as I sat with Angela, so I texted Melanie to share my sadness with her. Chris came in and my heart bled for him and all that he has endured. I could see the weight of it all on his face. I told him that God chose him because God knew he was the perfect man to walk with her on this journey to death. No one could care for her better. I sat there in awe of the love I was witnessing between them thinking of those lines in the marriage vows, “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life…till death do us part.” The moment reminded me of the old saying “Marriage is like writing a blank check; you never know how much it will cost you.” For Chris and Angela it cost them the greatest of sacrifices.
Two days later Chris called me to tell me Angela had passed away and although we had all prepared for this and even said our goodbyes, it was heart-wrenching to hear that I would never see my friend again.
Chris shared that their children Gianna and Gus came in and kissed her before she took her final breath, and she died the day before her son’s birthday. That is so like Angela! She loved her children more than anything. She was a mother till the end. Waiting for their soft lips to touch her cheek and leaving before her son’s birthday so his birthday could be about him and not cancer.
She was my quiet, calm friend whose soul became loud as she allowed many across the world to share in her suffering and her incredible faith. I’m proud to have been her friend. I’m grateful God designed it to be that way! God knew…He calculated this all from the beginning for His greater glory…whatever that may be. Something big! I am sure of it! Her story and her faith have already touched so many around the world leading many to Christ. If you want to hear more of her story and the impact of her life and death, go to http://www.AngelaFaddis.com.
Until we meet again…my sister in Christ! Thank you for the example you have set for all of us on how to die with dignity and an undying trust in the Lord.
Special Note: Thank you my blog readers! I know many of you have kept up with Angela’s story and have been praying for her. I am so grateful!
Chris Faddis posted this a few days before Angela passed away. He included this picture where Angela has on her pink nail-polish. It is a beautiful piece of writing and insight. I wanted to share it with you all.
Faddis, Angela Christine Angela Christine Faddis, 32, of Gilbert, AZ died on Friday September 21, 2012 at her home with her husband and two children by her side after a 15 month journey with Stage IV Colon Cancer that began with a surprise diagnosis on Easter Sunday, 2011. Angela’s witness of faith throughout her cancer journey has been an inspiration to many. Her words to her husband upon her diagnosis were simply, “Jesus still rose, so we will trust.” She lived those words to the very end, knowing that though she didn’t want to die, she would be going home to heaven to be in union with God and would be healed completely body and soul. Growing up in Montgomery County, Maryland, Angela attended Damascus High School where she was very active in sports, especially pom, and many other clubs and activities as well as being very involved in her youth group. She went on to attend Liberty University for two years and then transferred to the University of South Carolina where she would graduate in 2002. Angela was very involved in the Catholic Student Center at USC and would remain involved in her faith serving as a volunteer youth leader for many years. A search for masters degree programs led her to learn about Arizona, and though she decided against further schooling, she simply knew she must move to Arizona. Going only on that intense desire, Angela moved to Arizona on her birthday on October 1, 2003. A few months after moving here she met her husband, Chris, they were married on July 1, 2006. The Faddis Family moved to Winston-Salem, NC in 2008 for a job opportunity and would remain there until shortly after Angela’s diagnosis when they decided to move back to Arizona to be in the place that made Angela happiest and to be near family and friends. Angela is remembered as a person who’s smile could light up the room and her laugh brought everyone great joy. Her deep commitment to her faith and her love of others has long inspired friends and loved ones. She had a strong commitment to raising her children and made the decision to staying home to care for them despite the financial difficulty. Always putting her husband and children first, Angela felt great joy in being a wife and mother. Angela is survived by her husband Christopher Lauren, her children: Gianna (5) and Augustine (3), her parents: John Mayer and Deborah Mullinix (Bittner), her grandfather Charles Bittner, her brother’s: Jeff Mayer and Andrew Mayer, and her half brother Joshua Mayer, her in-laws: Yvonne Meehan (Sanchez) and Devry Faddis, along with countless family and friends. There will be a Vigil with visitation at 5pm – 8pm on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at St. Timothy Catholic Church, 1730 W. Guadalupe Rd. Mesa, AZ 85202. Mass of Christian Burial will also be celebrated at St. Timothy Catholic Church on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 10am. Burial will take place immediately following the funeral Mass at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Mesa. Reception to follow. Flowers can be sent to St. Timothy’s for information on how to support the family, please visit www.angelafaddis.com. Arrangements entrusted to Queen of Heaven Mortuary