I didn't know her particularly well but we crossed paths many times in the last ten years. I first met her at a conference, and then several more and at the houses of friends. As I was leaving grad school she was coming in under the same advisor. She was smart, beautiful, and possessed a confidence I wished I could emulate.
Not too long after starting grad school she smashed her finger in the door of the bathroom. And it changed everything. It didn't heal, and it didn't heal and then she was diagnosed with subungual melanoma. Cancer is often unexpected and freakish and unfair but this seemed particularly horrible - that such an everyday occurrence (well, everyday to klutzes like me) could suddenly turn the world upside down. She was an amazing woman - she did so much even after the diagnosis - learning to fly, continuing to pursue her PhD. Our paths continued to cross and I would always check in but not being close I didn't want to pry.
It came as a shock to me the other day to stumble upon her blog, Shelski, and learn that she passed away with the with the end of 2008. She lived her life well, she did the things she loved and she will be missed. My thoughts go out to her family.