First there was Leann. Leann was a sweet, kind and gentle person. She had a smile that was so calming, welcoming and approachable. I have never made a huge secret that I was a teenager that most parents didn't want their teens around. I understand why too. But Leann never turned me away from her home. She was always kind to me and always welcomed me. Learning of her cancer became more devestating to me as news traveled that she wasn't going to make it through. I wasn't sure why. I mean, yes, she was an old friend's mother and she had been nice to me but I was surprised at how her death was touching my life. The more I thought about her though, the more I realized how her kind and gentle soul really shaped the way I treat people now. The more I thought about her, the more grateful I became to her for the example she set to me. Even in her death she has been giving. She gave me a long lasting lesson in remaining grateful to those who touch our lives, even if it is in it's smallest way.
Next, Jamie. Jamie was married to my cousin Bruce. Unfortunately, that marriage did not last. When Jamie began taking Olivia to T&P, I would not even give Jamie a chance. I am fiercely protective of my family and did not even look twice at Jamie. BUT...at the end of last year, at pictures (which is always a hellish experience) we had a few exchanges of pleasantries. We built on that. We weren't bffs or anything but her smile, kindness, care for those around her, willingness to help out anyone at anytime with whatever she could and just all around happiness, made it easy to like her. She seriously was a bright spot in a room when she entered. I appreciated that about her. I appreciated seeing her with Olivia and seeing their relationshp grow. I admire her for the healing and self growth she had. Her death has touched me. I feel guilty for the way I talked about her and treated her a few years ago. I feel proud to have gotten to know her better this year. I feel that Jamie would tell me to quit being silly and that it was no big deal. I am grateful to Jamie for teaching me about second chances and embracing those you love tight everyday. I am grateful to her for reminding me to let those I love know I love them, everyday. I know the deaths in the past couple of months have touched people very deeply and I am not trying to tell ANYONE how to grieve because that is definitely not my place. However, I am saying,...you are here. You are alive and well in this moment and I feel like, as someone left behind, I owe it to them, to those in my life to LIVE. Live happy, healthy and full of life. I owe a life full of gratitude for the beauty in my life. If I allow death to keep me down, then I am not honoring the lessons of those who have passed on. So, I will live in light and I hope you will too.