10/12/09 — Still shining: Tonya Matthews left us a job to do

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Still shining: Tonya Matthews left us a job to do

Even though many of her friends and family knew it was coming, the news that Tonya Matthews finally lost her battle with cancer was still a shock.

She had her time to say goodbye, to spend precious moments with her daughter, Haley, and the rest of her family as well as her many, many friends.

But you are never quite ready for such a loss, not really.

In her final days, Tonya was surrounded by those she loved -- a blessing she said many people are not lucky enough to have. Her family can take comfort in the fact that she knew they loved her -- and that she loved them more than anything.

But somehow that is cold comfort.

It is easy to wonder why someone who did so much for others was destined to lose her own battle -- even after all the inspiration she gave to others who fought and are fighting this disease.

In some ways it might simply be that the 35-year-old was meant for bigger and better things -- that her caring, yet human, life was meant to be a shining example of what we can do for each other, if we take the time to look around and to share our hearts.

You can rest assured that she will be watching over everyone -- her beloved daughter, mother, father, sister and brother, her friends who are still fighting and the doctors and others who work so hard to help the people who are diagnosed with cancer each year.

But if you really want to see Tonya, look up at the sky during this year's Relay for Life.

She will be the shining star -- the hope that forever lights a path for not only the many more who will fight on in their own battles, but for those who are part of the ongoing battle to find a cure.

She would want you to remember her that way -- with hope and heart, not sadness and regret.

Giving people a reason to be grateful and hopeful -- that was Tonya's gift and her legacy.

She would want us to make sure that faith continues -- even if now, it will be accompanied by tears.

Published in Editorials on October 12, 2009 2:00 PM