Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rest in Peace Paula Gerding

Rest in Peace Paula Gerding …

Easier said than done! Paula who is known to her dear cancer survivor sisters as Pee is a person who is not going to rest in peace easily because she is always busy with one or other agenda. She picks up a project out of nowhere and works on it until the target is reached. Now that she has easy access to God’s ear and has angels standing around her, I am sure she is going on take up few projects and start working on them immediately. One of them could be finding a cure for breast cancer. I know how much she hated cancer and how fiercely she fought the demon before finally falling down like a Spartan warrior.

If not for cancer, we would have never known each other. The connection between us was that we both had walked the path of breast cancer and could understand the fears, sadness and will to survive the disease brought with it. Though we had nothing in common, we bonded so well over internet and then personally too. We enjoyed our tiny brick fights to the annoyance of some people, and Paula said that meant we were true sisters.

My mind has been thinking over the time I spent with my dear friend. Even though there is pain in losing her, I cannot help but smile when I think about her. I am sharing here a Paula episode that took place when we were on Yahoo Web Cam Chat.

Once we were on yahoo chat with the webcam running in the morning a Friday morning. The children were asleep as they both had their school off and so I and Paula burnt our keyboards discussing God, faith, Cancer, bringing up kids, husbands and finally landed with weather. I told Paula that it was raining cows and elephants out there with the onset of monsoon. Naturally Paula looked out through her window and let out a weird sounding cry.

Pee : Oh my God! How did this happen?

Me: What happened? Pee, please answer me.

Pee: I am going to die

Me: Why? Is there someone lurking out there? For Chris sakes call 911 please. What? Where are you going? Don’t try anything yourself Pee. He could be stronger than you. Hey! Come back.

By then she had left the computer and rushed out. She was hysteric! That is the biggest understatement of my life. I panicked wondering what was happening when I saw her on web cam again all scared and panicked.

Pee: I just saw my cats out there near the window. They had got out through an opening and now I cannot find them.

Being an Indian I did not understand how pet cats were treated in USA. We had pet cats who went out, fought with dogs, stole milk from neighbors but came back home when they wanted to sleep choosing the exact place where we were about to sit.

Me: Why do you have to find your cats? Cats are experts in finding their way back home even from unknown places. If they have gone out they will come back.

She squealed and ran out again. She was on and off computer. I tried to calm her down but every effort went in vain. I tried my best to explain to her that cats are very smart animals. They can take care of themselves and they will sure walk in when they are hungry. Paula was very upset to even listen to me but she did not want me to log off because she was scared to deal with the situation alone.

She kept looking around and typing. I cannot recall the exact sentences because they came in torrents and were not in proper order. The message they conveyed is remembered though. “You don’t understand anything. My poor cats do not know how to defend themselves. The cruel car drivers enjoy crushing cats under their wheels. Don’t ask me why they would do it because I don’t know why but they try to catch cats under their wheels. You may not have seen raccoons. Are there raccoons in Byndoor? We have raccoons here who love eating cats. There are many poisonous snakes out there too. Debbo can tell you about the snakes in my garden. They may get them … OH GOD! What shall I do now?”

The messages she typed appeared to create some kind of conspiracy against her cats by someone unknown. All of a sudden she picked up a flash light and rushed out. She was calling out for them, waking up the entire neighborhood (yeah! She can be loud) and frightening the cats so that they hid themselves somewhere in the bushes.

She came back on computer after sometime crying. She complained I was typing blurred words and she could not read them properly. I did not try to explain to her that it was her tears which made the words blurr because she would never accept it. All of a sudden she decided to call up her daughter Kirsten. Kirsten was driving and she panicked too. Now Paula was worried about the cats and her daughter who had panicked and I was not to log off the computer because she was scared to be alone.

I sat there trying to say something but being stopped by the words “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND”.

I may not be recalling the exact order of the events but this is how it went

Paula went hysteric all over again after trying to calm herself

She sobbed

Said a prayer

Went to potty



Called Kirsten again

Went to potty

Prayed calling up on Mary to keep her cats safe

Ran out with a flash light



Got angry with me for not understanding they were in danger


Threatened to get herself killed if anything happened to her cats.

Sob sobs sobs and more sobs.

All of a sudden she was gone. She was not on net.

I was very much worried. I logged on to the cancer support board to see if she had posted something about the lost cats there. But she was missing from the boards and there was no mail from her either. It was now my turn to get hysteric and pace around … looking at the computer and watching out for her come on. I decided to call her up. But an inner voice told me “Hey! Don’t panic. She is going to show up soon. Don’t panic. Cool down .. coooool down”. After sometime I couldn’t take it anymore. The funny thing was that exactly when Paula logged in, I logged out and grabbed the phone from the shelf. In a hurry I pulled along a jar of oil too. It came down crushing my toes and spreading out glass pieces in every possible corner you could imagine. It was tough getting rid of the oil from the floor due to the glass pieces and I had to do it quickly as my brother’s kids cannot be stopped for long. As usual Rayyan (my son) helped me gain my composure, come out of the panic mode and also cleaned up the mess. Then he logged on to the net and went to check Paula aunt’s message and there we had the message flashing at us


“I had lost my connection by pulling a wire out of my computer”.


I know Paula, it is useless telling you to rest in peace. I will miss you dear friend.


  1. It seems like Paula was full of energy and enthusiasm, whether it was in moments of love and happiness or moments of fear, anger and sadness.

    I hate saying the word "was" because I'd like to imagine she's still out there somewhere. And no, I can't imagine her resting in peace. Not after that story : )

    I'm betting you have more crazy Paula stories to share. I hope remembering them brings you some smiles...although I know they'll also bring you many tears.

  2. Oh boy, did you capture Paula's spirit as well as the way she tended to behave during chats. She was a proud and stubborn multi-tasker even when she wasn't panicking over something as horrifying as losing her cats. (They always came back on their own, but let's not try convincing her of that even now!)

    I enjoyed reading this so much, Farida. I picture Paula being quite busy in heaven organizing events while simultaneously orchestrating Very Important Gatherings where everyone is assigned tasks that must be done in a very precise way.

    She may not be here with us any more, but I bet she's in her element, doing what she does best and doing it with total joy.

  3. that was a beautiful tribute

    may her soul rest in peace

  4. Your post reads like she is still here...and for you, she is. And that's a good thing - to have so many memories and knowledge of how she impacted your life.

    I'm so sorry that she is not physically here anymore. I know that you and others who loved her will miss her dearly.

    Cancer has to go!

  5. Memories are wonderful stuff aren't they. They keep people alive and no one can take them away from us.

    She seemed like a wonderful soul.

    Hilarious story about the cats! I could just picture the two of you going crazy in each of your own way.. connected yet miles apart.

    Thank you for your words always.


  6. May her soul rests in Peace.....god has special place for special people....

    I remember reading about her in one your earlier posts........when you went to US.... i believe i'm not mistaking here.....

    reading tht post just gave me a hint of how good a person she was....

  7. what a wonderful tribute to a dear friend. May God rest her soul.

  8. This is a beautiful post to your wonderful friend! So sorry for your loss. I know you will treasure your memories!

  9. First time here... but your blog looks so vibrant.
    Looking forward to new posts.

    Jyoti Mishra

  10. Hi Farila! Saw you're an activist! Great to stumble on your blog! Have you heard of Freedom of Access to Medicines? The non-profit leading the effort against the FDA from disproving the drug Avastin on June 28, which is currently working for 17,500 women with Metastatic Breast Cancer! Please sign and share the urgent petition:

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