Donnajean had given nearly thirty years of service to the citizens of Philadelphia, both as a patrol officer and a sergeant. She was tough, but fair, and not everyone liked her style because she – get this – expected her officers and detectives to do their jobs.
Donna was funny and sarcastic, so naturally we hit it off. We didn’t always agree, and we had it out once or twice, but there was always a sense of mutual self-respect. Her favorite term for me was “Freak,” and she would say that every time I muttered something dirty when a pretty girl walked by, or when I would say how much I loved coming to work. The response was always, “Freak!”
Years ago, Donna was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. The doctors gave her six months to a year. Donna fought harder than anyone could imagine and beat the cancer’s ass. The treatments took its toll, and a few months ago, she was told her T-cells were being “rewritten.” (Sorry, I don’t know the science.) The doctors said the only way to fight it was with blood transfusions every other day. Donna was reacting well to that, and she called me a week ago, saying she thought she could beat this, too.
She thanked me for all I did at work and for helping her through the bad days. She thanked me for being her friend, and said if she ever got too down, that I was to tell her to stop complaining, get up, and fight. It was the last time I would ever speak to her.
The only minor bright spot is she will be reunited with her father, a former Philly police officer, in Heaven. She always said her dad was her hero.
Donna leaves behind two children, a boy and a girl, both under the age of 25. I cannot imagine how they will cope with their mother’s loss at such a young age.
Goodbye Donnajean. Rest in peace. I am proud to say your were my friend.