My friend Patsy Annette Binns Edwards had been sick for a long time. She had a cold in October 2005 that wouldn’t go away. The doctors diagnosed pneumonia in November 2005, then pleurisy in December 2005. Pneumonia again in January and in March 2006. In April she began to suspect that it was something more…. she had lost 17 pounds since December. In early July, tests showed that an overactive thyroid was suspect for the weight loss. Right afterward, a pinched nerve landed her at a chiropractor and when that didn’t help, back at the hospital. On July 28, my friend had a CT scan and it was confirmed that she had a cancerous lung mass. Two weeks later, on August 11, 2006, she was diagnosed with incurable cancer in her brain, liver and lung.
She started radiation and chemotherapy immediately. By January 2007 she was down to 109 pounds, but still pressed onward, ever hopefully and faithful that she would get better. In early March she felt better, then things turned worse again with a bone infusion in late March. She went back to the hospital in mid-April and got steadily worse and worse, needing infusions and fluids almost every day. On May 13, she weighed 99 pounds, down from 158 in July 2006. By the end of the week she had dropped another 15 pounds.
My friend fought a very hard battle. She prayed to God every day to remove the cancer. She believed that God would take care of her and that belief gave her a strength that I have never seen. In an email she sent in September 2006, she said…
Blessings…sometimes they are all around you and you don’t even see them. Being ill like this, I could focus on how awful I feel and how weak I am (I am having trouble walking), but I have to fight this disease and I can’t do that feeling sorry for myself.
On May 19, Patsy’s oldest daughter Ashton told me that her grandma had asked her to come down to Charleston to see her mother one last time. That night I spoke with Patsy’s husband, Conan and the next morning, Ashton and I and my brother Zeb drove to Charleston, to MUSC downtown, to visit with Patsy. By the time we got there, she was in a coma, her breathing facilitated by machines.
We spent the day in the hospital. I held her hand and told her that I loved her, that I could never thank her enough for being my friend and that I would never forget her. I held Ashton while she told her mama how much she loved her and how sorry she was that they ever argued, that she was the best mama she could ever have hoped for. I cried until tears would not run anymore. Hymns were sung, prayers raised, stories told. At 8:30pm on May 20, 2007, Patsy Annette Binns Edwards died, with her oldest daughter holding one hand and her husband holding the other. On May 24, 2007, her body was committed to the ground and her soul to heaven.
Patsy was a wonderful woman. She was the mother of seven children — six by birth and one by marriage. She loved being a wife and a mother, especially a mother. She was never happier than when she was with her children – Ashton, Shannon, Emily, Shayne, Cathlin, Jason and Jamie. She loved being pregnant, loved nursing her babies, loved watching them grow and learn. She was so proud of her older kids and how much they were maturing and changing, right in front of her.
She was a work-at-home mother and had belonged to a huge community of women on the internet since 1999. She started sewing OopsaDaisys! cloth diapers in 1999 and opened My Child’s Garden in 2001, offering beaded “Not Just for Nursing” necklaces and bracelets. In September 2003, she joined Tuesday Bear, a group of work-at-home mothers which has since evolved into Midday Faire. Patsy sewed clothing for children, making incredible embellished overalls and matching hairbows and jewelry. She designed “Baby to Bride” bracelets and “Jean Jewels” for keychains and belts. She did graphic design work for Midday Faire.
Patsy was a pirate, through and through. Her celebrity crush was always Johnny Depp, who bears a striking resemblance to her husband, Conan. She fell in love with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and eagerly awaited each new movie, going to see the second movie on opening night. She had her own special smilies at the Midday Faire forums and she always had Captain Jack as her picture icon by her name.
I met Patsy in March 2001. We were both members of the Amity Mama forums and both pregnant, me with my first, her with her fifth. Our due dates were within days of each other. We emailed each other and posted together on the forums. She was so jealous when I went into labor first and teased that she would be pregnant forever. Twelve days later, on July 28, 2001, she gave birth to Jason. We emailed late at night a couple times every week, when we were both awake with fussy newborns who wanted to nurse around the clock and later, when our babies were rolling over, sitting up, walking, when I became pregnant again the next April, when we were angry at our husbands or when they did something so incredible romantic, when we were sad or lonely.
Our friendship became even stronger when I joined Tuesday Bear two weeks after Patsy, in October 2003. We messaged each other more than before and one night, when she called me, we spoke easily and laughed so hard we cried. Two more different people you would have trouble finding… Patsy, the Conservative Republican Christian and me, the Liberal Democratic Atheist. It never mattered. We talked about everything, including religion and politics and books and kids and love and sex and men and… everything. She was my closest friend other than my husband, and when I separated from him in May 2006, she became my #1 confidante and keeper of all my secrets, my best friend.
I spent months depressed, self-injurious and for a time, suicidal. I would call Patsy and tell her all of my craziness and she would say just the right thing to talk me out of my tree. She never judged me, only loved me. She prayed for me even when I would tell her that I don’t believe in it. I would visit her in Charleston and we would laugh and talk for hours while our kids played on the playground and she nursed her new baby, Jamie. She saw good in me even when I could not, and she alone knew all that I went through and all that I felt in that one horrible year of my life.
I will never be able to replace the love and the light that was Patsy Edwards. I mourn her loss so deeply and it catches me at odd times in the day. I will laugh at a joke and think how I need to tell Patsy that one, then catch myself and be blinded by tears. I talk to her oldest daughter Ashton, who is dating my little brother Zeb, and she looks so much like her mama. It catches me off-guard when she laughs and her eyes twinkle just like Patsy’s did. I think how Ashton and Zeb would never have met if I had not gone to visit Patsy and take her a life-size cut-out of Johnny Depp right after she was diagnosed with cancer and I smile through my tears. We were all blessed to have known this woman and in the short time that she was here, she touched so many lives.
I’ll love you always Patsy girl.