The 2013 San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day was emotional to many participants for a multitude of reasons. For the 3-Day Staff, the memory of a fellow 3-Day coach – and friend – made the weekend even more poignant. One person in particular was in their hearts – Bridget Spence. Bridget had been a 3-Day coach and walker since 2006, and shared her very personal journey with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer with the world in her blog, My Big Girl Pants. Bridget passed away on April 4, 2013 and those who knew and loved her are facing their first 3-Day season without her. Coach Melissa Pinkney shared her thoughts and memories of Bridget.
When did you first meet Bridget?
“It was at the Boston 3-Day in 2011. Until that point, my only contact with Bridget was over the phone. In Boston, I remember how she came up to me like we had been friends for decades.”
What was it like to know her?
“She made you feel as though you were the most important person to her in that moment. She loved to fuss over people, make them smile, feel needed and comforted. With her, you always knew you were special.”
What are some of your favorite 3-Day memories with Bridget?
“My favorite memory was the first event we staffed together. It was a weekend filled with laughs, fun and friendship that I will never forget. I will always remember her laugh, and the way participants reacted to her. She always seemed the most at peace at the 3-Day. The 3-Day was her home, and it embraced and welcomed her with open arms.”How was Bridget remembered at the San Francisco 3-Day this year?
“We are honoring Bridget all year with the letter B and a pink ribbon on the right sleeve of our staff shirts. I often found myself looking down at it and touching it over the weekend. The Remembrance Tent includes Bridget’s picture as well. It is touching, beautiful and perfect. She is right in the middle of all of the pictures in the tent and will come “running” towards you as you approach her.
Did you feel her presence on the 3-Day this year?
“I am in charge of the Survivor’s Circle at the Closing Ceremony and give the signal to the survivor to raise the 3-Day flag that remembers those lost to breast cancer at the end of the ceremony. After a weekend filled with wind, when it came time for the ceremony, the wind was gone! I was worried that the flag would be motionless on the flagpole. I said to myself, “Ok, Bridget, I may need your help with the wind.” In an instant the flag blew ever so gently in the wind, as if she were letting me know she was there with me. When the flag was raised, again there was no wind. I said, “Ok Bridget, time for some more magic.” As I turned the flag pole slightly, just like magic the wind came at the perfect moment to ruffle the flag while we chanted, “WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP!” It was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend.”
How will you remember Bridget?
“I will remember her as the most amazing woman, friend, wife, daughter, sister, co-worker, confidant, and cheerleader – who just happened to have breast cancer. Unlike so many people, Bridget never let her cancer define her. She lived her life the way she wanted every day. She made no excuses, took no shortcuts and made everything better just by walking into a room. Wherever she was, people pulsated to her voice, her glow and her spirit.”
What three words would you use to describe Bridget?
“Lively. Unforgettable. Awe-inspiring.”
We know that hundreds of 3-Day participants have met Bridget, either walking beside her on the 3-Day, going to one of her Get Started Meetings in the Boston area or talking to her on the phone when they called for coaching advice. Do you have any memories of Bridget? Let us know in the comments below.