She died on April 16 at age 44. But in her own obituary, Beth O’Rourke insisted, “I was a survivor.”
The Massachusetts mother of two wrote the touching obituary in the days before she died, reflecting on her life, her love for her husband and children, and how – in a way – she beat cancer on her own terms.
“I died Thursday, April 16, 2015 surrounded by family, in the arms of my husband and anam cara, Brendan Patrick O’Rourke,” she wrote. (Anam Cara is a Gaelic term meaning “soul friend,” and refers to the Celtic belief of souls bonding.)
“I was 44 years old. I was a survivor. I was blessed in this life with two amazing children; Courtney Elizabeth age 11 and Seamus Brendan aged 8.”
She thanked her doctor, and said her own career in nursing allowed her to see the strength in others that she would eventually harness in her own cancer battle.
But the most poignant passages concern her family.
“I LOVED my life,” she wrote. “I loved a long run, to sit quietly by the lake, to read and dance and sing and be silly with our children. We loved watching summer storms blow across the water. I loved to chat and laugh with my sisters and friends … Of all the things I did in this life, nothing compared to being with Brendan and our children. I fought every day to stay alive and to be with them.”
Cancer, she wrote, derailed everything. But eventually she transcended it.
“Cancer does not care who it takes, who it hurts, or honor or love. It comes into your life and starts to break the threads that hold you, and you are left to see pieces of yourself slip away and dreams fade. We were clung only to each other with pure love and faith binding us, in the end is when the most amazing thing happens, cancer loses its strength and grace appears. We need to see it. We accept it, and go with it. Grace and love win, not cancer.”
She added: “I hope to be remembered, with laughter, love and a good pint. And for my children to know ‘No Momma ever did and no Momma ever will…’ ”
The O’Rourke family has set up a fund for the children’s education. Visit this GoFundMe page to donate.