Erin Phillips: Vast and Brilliant
“Do not be delicate- be vast and brilliant.”
This was Erin Phillips tagline or her Instagram account and a mantra she most certainly achieved on a daily basis.
I guess you could say I started getting to know Erin around the time of her double lung transplant, thanks to social media. Erin’s family and my family have always meant a lot to each and I don’t remember a time not knowing the Phillips family, but until this point, I had really only known Erin as Kellyn’s and Jillian’s sister, who were both good friend’s with my younger sister and who I both coached in youth league cheerleading.
Erin didn't cheer. She was much more badass than that. Cystic Fibrosis? That didn't stop Erin. She played sports and was good at them. "Do not be delicate- be vast and brilliant."
It was July 2012 when she set up shop at the Mayo clinic and underwent a double lung transplant and kept everyone updated with her progress through her blog (Inhale, Exhale, Repeat) almost immediately.
I had just recently gotten out of rehab when Erin received the news that she was getting new lungs and I became obsessed with following her story. I was amazed at literally how vast and brilliant she was through the entire journey. She inspired me. She was open and honest and unapologetic. She was authentic and genuine and inappropriate in the most amazing ways. She approached what most would look at as a terrifying situation and she showed faith over everything else. She invited humor and humility into her life daily with what she shared with others. Her facebook statuses could be compiled into a book of hope, humor and inspiration.
Watching Erin the past few years has been like a guidebook on how to do life. Talk about living life on life’s terms and choosing happiness. She embraced life and all the possibilities, both good and bad.
On June 5th of this year, Erin posted this on my facebook. She’s talking about mountains that are 14,000 feet in elevation. She wanted to hike them. And not just one…”a couple,” she says. Do not be delicate, be vast and brilliant.
I think we can all assume I will one day in the near future tackle this feat for Miss Erin. I mean, I kinda have to. It's the #ErinEffect
When I heard the news of Erin’s passing, I was driving back to Charlotte from Albemarle. I sobbed. I knew Erin was breathing easy in Heaven with the angles but my heart broke for her family and her close friends. My heart broke with that such a force has been taken from us.
I got home and looked through facebook and continued to sob. I was having trouble catching my breath just like when my brother had died. I knew what her family was going through and it's something so horrible and terrible you can't even imagine until you've experienced it. It's like your mind and body aren't able to process such pain and your body is rejecting the news in ways like not being able to breathe.
I went to Erin’s page and found what she had posted when my brother died…
A peace came over me as I read her post. I drew so much comfort from her words. Like she was speaking to us then...she was speaking to us now.
Another thing about Erin...she was wise beyond her years. I thought of Will. I thought of them high fiving each other in heaven and what a celebration it must be. So, I smiled.
You see, that's one of the amazing things about Erin. She was not delicate, but she was soft. She didn't let the harsh realities of life make her hard. She did everything with a beautiful fierceness--vast and brilliant; the way she lived, the way she loved, the way she faced life head on, the way she left this earth, and no doubt the way she entered Heaven's gates.
One of my favorite quotes is from Erma Bombeck…”When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
Erin, my sweet friend. You won.