In March of last year, I wrote about a friend and newspaper colleague who was doing everything in her power to fight cancer. Her name is Gunilla Asher.
Appropriately, her first name means “battle maiden.”
I wrote about Gunilla after participating in a meditation session where we unanimously created a healthy place to help her heal as the cancer continued to spread. In the session, we all shared how we were connected to Gunilla. As publisher of The Aspen Times and former ad director at the Post Independent, many of her news colleagues were present.
Newsies have a family-like connection like that.
We all shared stories of how we knew G that made us all laugh — and cry. We meditated to help build up our own positive internal energies that could in turn be shared with Gunilla. Even if we weren’t in the same space as her.
Positivity can work wonders that way.
Every person in the room felt the power of healing that comes with love, prayer and meditation. It was almost electric, like the feeling I had once when lightning hit an electric rod I was standing near. We left that day promising Gunilla that at 11:11 a.m. and p.m. we would send positive thoughts her way as she underwent treatment. People took time to pray for her, send positive vibes, post on Facebook, and do a battle cry for G as clocks landed on those magical numbers.
I often found myself doing the same at 1:11, too.
She traveled to meet with cancer experts in Texas and over Vail Pass so she could continue to live and build memories with her family, especially her husband and two young sons. One of Gunilla’s promises to her boys was to work with childhood and writer friends to document her life so they would always know the stories of their mom’s joyful life.
They collected photos and memories that will always be treasured.
Like the definition of her name, Gunilla battled with the strength of history’s great fighters. Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great come to mind. She was a superwoman, and she was superhuman. Through her own words on Facebook and her CaringBridge journal site, Gunilla showed us all that she was fearless and fearful, just as anyone who has fought cancer can relate. Her strength and honesty during life’s darkest time was nothing short of inspiring. All it would take was for 11:11 to flash on a clock, and I would think about her journey and her fight.
I think that will always happen.
Any time I saw an update to Gunilla’s CaringBridge site, I knew I was going to read some of the most raw and courageous words a person could write. Cancer was her ultimate enemy, and she shared with friends and family the personal struggle she faced with a mix of humor, candor and courage.
Gunilla always had the gift to make people laugh until they cried.
This week, the physical world is saying its goodbyes to one of the greatest fighters known to man, the woman with the name that means “battle maiden.” In life, Gunilla was known for her powerful presence and a joyful personality. That spirit will live on in all that knew her, and those who might be hearing her story for the first time. She was a loving and caring mother and a superstar at business management. At only 42, she perfected how to balance career, love and life to create an environment of respect, openness, and happiness at work and home. Gunilla had the natural leadership skills to help her colleagues, friends and family reach their fullest potential and realize that such a balance in life is achievable. That anything is possible, as long as you show up and commit.
And that no matter the struggle, life is always worth the fight.
— April E. Clark encourages people to support www.caringbridge.org in Gunilla’s memory so others may connect with their loved ones and share their stories of strength.