My Dear Friend, Abby

This is all too familiar, but with a heavy heart, I mourn the loss of my good childhood friend, Abby. Abby sadly passed away on Sunday evening (April 17th) after a fight with cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Not hereditary, environmental, or anything else. Just effing bad luck.




Abby was first diagnosed last January (2015) and although she endured the difficulties of radiation, chemotherapy, and continuous hospital stays, she fought with her heart and soul and never gave up. Abby was a mother of two (Miri – 3 year old daughter, and Jaren- 5 year old son), a wife, a daughter, a dedicated and loving friend. She suffered through cancer all of 2015, but in December was in remission. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend quality time with her over Christmas Break in Sunriver. We cross country skied, went sledding with the kids, laughed, and talked. She was relieved to have had 2015 in the past and looked forward to 2016 and not having cancer. When I said goodbye to her, I had no idea it was the last time I was going to see her….I already miss her warmth, laugh, smile, and simply put, everything about her. SOB!


Abby braving her no-hair-look.

Abby braving her no-hair-look.


My heart goes out to her children, family, and everyone else affected by her death. She had an infectious smile, loud laugh (that would make everyone else laugh), positive attitude, and a heart of gold. During this sadness and heartache, not only do I treasure my memories and times together with Abby, but I also am committed to celebrate life and love and the good friends that we are luckily connected to.


The Calvo Family in December. They were active outdoor lovers and loved to ski, snowshoe, bike, run, hike, etc....

The Calvo Family in December. They were passionate about the  outdoors and loved to ski, snowshoe, bike, run, hike, etc….


Abby and I had been friends since elementary school. We were great friends, especially in Middle and High school where we would spend all our week lunches and weekends together. She was a friend, but also an older sister (she was a year older), and someone I looked up to, loved, and treasured. I am thankful that I was able to tell her I loved her (on Sunday through a text her aunt read to her), and it makes me want to tell everyone that I love, how much I love them. (Never wait).


The Michels Family in the 90s.

The Michels Family in the 90s.


Not that anyone wants to know how to deal with someone who has cancer, but Abby’s husband is a perfect example of how to communicate with such grace and honesty. As a friend, I would receive updates from Abby’s Army on her status and what the family needed. These emails were always so clear and I always knew how to help out — not that it made anyone feel much better….but it just made it easier and clear. For example:


For Abby:

  • Please send your positive energy, prayers, thoughts to Abby for this Wednesday’s bone biopsy.  In our meditation and prayers we’re asking for any remaining cancer cells from her surgery to be weak and localized to the surgery site w/out any spreading to other parts of the body.
  • Abby wants to hear from you, but she wants the focus to be on what’s happening in your lives, etc.  No need to focus on the cancer.  Tell a funny story. Make her laugh and smile. You get the idea!
  • We understand laughter may be difficult at this stage.  An uplifting e-mail works or a positive text during day hours.  She loves bright vibrant colors if you want to send a card.  Go nuts!
  • Walks! If you’re local, Abby will have some time around the house as things kick off.  She’s mentioned several times how much walks with many of you have lifted her spirits.  Just follow her lead and energy level
  • We will be spending a lot of time at UWMC so if you were ever needing an excuse to shop at University Village we will be just down Montlake and I’m sure if Abby is up to it she would love to see you.

For our family:

  • Smiles, hugs, positive energy.  Keep it coming!
  • If you have kids the age of Jaren and Miri, we may call on you for play dates.
  • Just knowing you’re there will help.

We’ve never been through this before, so I expect this list will grow.  Share this e-mail if it can help inform others. I’ll add any e-mails to this list other updates like these. Please no social posts at this time.  There may be a time for this later, we’ll see. When you see us, don’t feel obligated to do anything and please don’t feel awkward.  A hug, hello, and a smile is all you need.  We know that every one of you is very sorry to hear this news.  We are too and our hope is that none of you ever have to have this news.  For now – we are where we are and the most productive use of all of our energy is positive thinking and push for the best possible outcome.

Love and healing.


A photo from March 28, 2016. Just a couple weeks ago.....

A photo from March 28, 2016. Just a couple weeks ago…..


So with sadness, I say au revoir / goodbye to Abby. I will always treasure our memories fondly and you will forever be in my heart. I love you, Abs.


Abby Michels Calvo. 1977-2016.

Abby. 1977-2016.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Josie Girl


  1. I am incredibly sorry for your loss. Sending my thoughts and prayers to you, her family, and friends.


  2. oh yael – i am so saddened to read this. i pray for strength and courage and love for her family, especially the little ones. with good friends like you, i’m sure they won’t forget their mom.

  3. What a beautiful message for a wonderful person. I will never forget Abby’s warmth, grace and laughter. Big hugs dear friend xoxo

  4. This is Nicole (Tarver) Ruffo from Eugene from many years ago. Lucas was a dear friend and I always looked up to Abby. I am devastated by the loss of her. Today marks the 5th anniversary of a dear friend passing away from cancer at 32 and leaving behind a small child. Let me know how I can help in anyway. I am far away in NJ, but anything I can do for her husband and kids…

    • Thanks, Nicole. I think about Abby everyday and feel I haven’t done enough to help out with Justin, the kids, Lucas, and Lee. My heart goes out to them but I don’t know how to help them. Any words of wisdom as you have (unfortunately) experienced a similar loss?

  5. Beautiful words for a dearly beloved daughter, sister , niece, girlfriend,, wife, mommy, and in my case,daughter in law.
    Your tribute and pictures brought tears to my eyes and a proud warmth to my heart.

    • Jon, I am so sorry to hear about Abby being your daughter-in-law and having to deal with that loss. I love Abby still, and now that I am in Eugene for the summer, I feel her loss even more so. And I miss her. I miss her laugh, her smile, her positivity, and her strength. I hope that Justin is doing okay — I need to do more, I am guilty of not doing enough but sending thoughts and prayers — and I hope you as a father / grandfather are doing okay, too. We all loved Abs so much.

  6. I was missing Abby just now and decided to google her name. I came across this wonderful tribute to Abby. My husband’s mom married Abby’s dad about 8 years ago and I had the privilege of getting to know Abby and enjoying her friendship. She did share stories about you, so I think its pretty cool I just found your blog. The last time I saw her was on Christmas when she was with her family celebrating with ours in Portland. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her either. I think about her everyday as I’m sure you do.
    Take care, Lea : )

    • Thanks, Lea. I am so happy that Lee has your mother to comfort and support and love. I know Abby was very fond of her and the blended family that she inherited along the way. I hope that when the family gets together now, you can still share memories of Abby. A memory recently made me smile of celebrating Lee’s 75th (or 70th?) birthday last summer in Eugene — it was such a beautiful celebration and Abby was all smiles, as always. Hope your family is doing okay.

  7. I have just been looking through a box of old letters, and found a dear note to me from Abby. She sent it to me with a necklace her mom, my childhood friend Linda Vertelney, had made in the years before she died. Linda and I had been childhood friends who continued to see each other through the years, and Abby and Lucas saw my 2 daughters when we were back in Duluth, MN at the same time one summer, at least. Abby’s note, and her sending me the necklace, was so thoughtful. I was delighted to find her on facebook, to see the beautiful photos of her husband and children, and thought of LInda, whom Abby resembled so much, how happy she would be to have known them. I was just about to send Abby a message an hour ago, but for some reason, I hesitated, and went to see her husband’s profile, and then, gradually and so horribly sorrowing, I realized that Abby had died.
    I remember when her mom told me on the phone that Abby had been tested and that she did not have the breast cancer gene that Linda eventually died from. Linda was so happy to know that, to think her daughter could live her life without that threat.
    I appreciate that you have written about Abby. Clearly, in many ways, she was as lovely as her mom was, and brought a light into the world.

    • Hi Lizzie, Thanks so much for sharing your relationship with Linda and Abby. I loved both Linda and Abby so much. Linda was always a surrogate mother to me, and I (along with two other friends) would always love our weekend nights at the Michels house watching TV late at night and hanging out with Abby but we also loved gossiping with Linda. She loved hearing about all the Middle School and High School friendship / boy drama. She always gave insight and perspective and we loved talking with her. Abby definitely inherited her joie de vivre, positive attitude, and strength from Linda. I remember when Linda passed away and that I was unable to attend the funeral…, I remember that I couldn’t be there at Abby’s. I think of those strong, incredible women all the time, and it warms my heart to hear your story about Abby and Linda. If you do want to get in contact with Justin, I am sure that he would love to hear from you. Thanks for your comment, much love to you.

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