This was her season; she liked summer. She liked its warmth and freedom, its ability to feel encouraging, uplifting. It somehow feels wrong to relish the long, sunny days without her here to enjoy them.

My friend and former work colleague passed away a little more than six months ago after years of It feels wrong to relish the long sunny days without her battling cancer that seeped into her bones and stuck there. She was 52, too young to leave this world in these times. I missed the funeral (I was in Israel and she was in the States), so in a way, it never really happened.

She just seems inaccessible, not gone for good.

She dealt with pain well, or so it seemed. She did it for her children, for her husband, but also for herself. She wasn’t going to succumb to sadness. Life was too short; there was too much to do. There was kindness and concern; that took precedence over anything. There was generosity; she was the first to offer help or advice. There was laughter, something she gushed like a sprinkler; it lit her from within and spilled over to anyone who happened to be nearby.

In Judaism, there are very specific guidelines on how to mourn a parent, a child, a family member. They are described in the utmost detail, out of tradition, of course, but probably also to preoccupy the mind of the mourner. But what about a close friend—someone who feels like family? There are no said standards for that. We sit on the sidelines, gripped by the same loss, the same emotional pain.

I find myself picking up the phone sometimes to call her, to hear her voice. (In fact, I have yet to take her number off my speed dial.) Her Facebook page is still up, and I visit it sometimes to visit her, see the pictures and read the notes and savor the life of a person who touched so many other people in positive ways.

I have discovered that you never really lose someone; you take them with you. Their stories. Their gifts. Even their predilections for little things.

Like her appreciation of ful over hummus (she lived in Israel for more than a decade). It’s in the beans (fava over garbanzo).

Because of her, I jump at the chance to eat quinoa (she loved it). I stopped using shampoo that doesn’t lather well (she didn’t love it). I look for chances to use the word “yoga,” to make a baby smile, to eat something really (really) healthy or take a walk around the block for a burst of air or to get out of your own head. To look at people and notice their moods, what they’re wearing, how they move fast or meander on their way. How some clutch coffee cups from this place or that, sipping with determination, or gesture wildly in the air, phone headsets strapped on, aloof to all.

Because that’s what she gave me. And that’s how I reach her.

But how can I be a friend still? How can I conjure her up at a moment’s notice—not because ofHow can I be a friend still? something I see, but something I do?

I can say something kind. Lift someone up when they’re down, when they are mired in life’s predicaments. I can cook a meal for someone in need, visit someone who is sick, call a friend or family member to let them know that they’re not alone. I can be a cheerleader for others the way she was for me.

That’s how we not only hold on, but move forward. Move forward, with them by our sides.