Monday, January 10, 2011

A Legacy She'd Be Proud Of

One year ago yesterday, my relationship with my Mother changed forever. She died in Ontario surrounded by her family and the people she loved. I sat beside her and held her hand for hours until eventually, her time with us here, ended.

In the past few weeks, I've been thinking about this day and how exactly it would go, or more so, how it was supposed to go. Would I spend all day locked inside and weeping? Should I go somewhere private to remember her? I remember her every single day. I think of her every single day. January 9th would be no different in that sense, but I wasn't sure what I should prepare for.

A few strange realities over the holidays caught me off guard; her name kept being added to my mental list of gifts to buy and each time I had to remind myself that I didn't need to send a gift this year. I also panicked at the end of Christmas Day that amongst my focus and all the chaos of having 13 guests over for dinner, I had forgotten to call my Mom to say Merry Christmas. But hardest of all was the moment driving home on New Years Eve when I realized that one year ago that day, I had hugged my Mom, saw her smile and heard her say goodbye for the very last time.

The days in between Christmas and the anniversary of her passing, I can recall every move. It continues today as I remember the first morning I woke up beginning the experience of living a life without the woman who gave me mine. I struggled as January 9th crept closer and closer and I wasn't sure what I would be faced with or what I should be doing that day. I started writing a blog post about it a few days ago and it was very, very sad. I wrote about what my Mom meant to me, how close we were and how much I miss her. I wanted to write about her legacy and what she left behind. I was pages into the post before I had to stop. Partly because I could no longer see my work through my tears, and also because I just couldn't nail how to express just how special her legacy is. I left it unfinished and decided I would come back to it later when I was able to better articulate.

So January 9th arrived on schedule and I had made no "special" plans other than to meet up with a girlfriend for brunch. Without getting into details, I can say this friend is in a bad situation and really needs to find a way out. Trouble is, fear is controlling her right now and she's stuck. She's scared to move forward and scared to stay where she is, but if she doesn't act now, her situation will undoubtedly go from really bad to overwhelmingly worse. Part of the problem is that she's been convinced that she's powerless and she wouldn't be able to make a change even if she tried. We spent hours in that cafe talking about solutions and in the end, she left with a plan. More importantly, I think she has the courage to implement the plan.

Later that evening I met up with my BFF Kierstie (who I knew I would magnetically and universally be drawn to on this day). She asked how I was feeling and I honestly and truthfully told her I was feeling awesome! I was tingling with energy, I was jazzed from the inside out, I was smiling ear to ear, I was sunshine and rainbows! For no reason at all, a surge of emotion came over me and I was in the greatest of great mods. She just smiled and and non-chalantly with a bit of smirk said "yeah.. it's your mom."

I went on to explain what had happened earlier that day (in much more detail than I will divulge here). Knowing the details of the situation herself, she was surprised at our friends positive response and said "You may have changed her life today".

Now, I'm not sure about that, it'll be her own actions that change her life. But I did spend a good chunk of the day reminding her that she was beautiful, strong, capable, smart, that she had choices, that she was supported and that she was able make things better for herself.

Somewhere during our conversation back at that coffee shop my friend asked me "How did you get so smart?" and I told her "It's not smarts, it's what I believe. It's what my Mom made me believe".

In the end, I think she began to believe me and I hope she makes the choice to take action very soon. If it was in fact my advice or encouragement that made a difference, than I will have spent January 9th exactly the way I was supposed to.

My Mom was my biggest fan, my number one supporter and made darn sure that I new how loved I was. Yesterday, I made sure that someone else knows how strong she is, how beautiful she is, how in control she is of her own life and how brave she can be.

That's a legacy I think my Mom would be proud of having.


A great friend of mine lost someone very close to her many years ago and every year she posts the eulogy she gave at the service. I always thought this was a nice way to share a very special day with people that care about you, and about the person you lost that day. Below is what I wrote and read at my Mother's funeral.

One of my Mom’s greatest gifts to me was that she taught me how to dream. She taught me how to let my mind go to places where ANYTHING is possible. To be a pilot, an explorer, a CEO or to run away and join the circus, there were no limits on where your mind could go when you dream.
As early back as I can remember, we would talk about dreams and how important it was to have them. From her I’ve leaned the value in being quiet, because it’s during these times of solitude you let your mind go and explore a universe of possibilities. Sometimes when my mind came back, it would bring all these crazy ideas with it… I would always call her and say “Mom.. I got an idea…”. She never laughed at the absurdness of where my imagination went, or shut down even the stupidest of ideas. She never once told me that they wouldn’t happen, no matter how impossible or ridiculous they seemed. She just simply listened.
Once I learned to dream, it seemed to be her life’s purpose to teach me everything I needed to make those dreams come true. Perseverance, dedication, patience, a little planning and lot of hard work, and I KNOW that there isn’t anything that I can’t do.
She told me once that the most significant piece of wisdom she could share is that I, and no one else is the master of my own destiny. That my life is what I determine it will be. She said that every time I make a choice, I am laying another stone in the pathway of my journey. At anytime I didn’t like where that path was headed, I just had to make another choice, and change the direction.
There is no other way I’ve ever known then to know this.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve discovered that some people can’t make their own choices. Fear controls so much in our lives. Fear of failure, of making the wrong choice, or fear of what others will think/say of the choices we make for ourselves. It’s because of my Mom that I do not live in fear. I am not afraid of anything. I know whatever “life’s little challenges” (she would call them) comes my way, I can face them with confidence, certainty and without fear of the unknown.
It was Mom’s gift to all of us, to have faith and believe in us, and give us the courage to become the people we have the potential to be. Everything I am, I owe to her.
Because of her patience, understanding, acceptance of peoples differences, calmness and empathy for others, I understand the meaning of being kind.
Because of every package I received, intricately wrapped and prepared with care, every card, letter or note she sent for absolutely no reason at all, I understand what it means to be thoughtful. 
Because of every example she set, and her ability to see a lesson in every challenge, I understand the meaning of a mentor. 
It was because of her unwavering optimism, that I have faith in the good in the world. 
Because of your beauty, grace, strength, ability to comfort, console, love and be loved, that I appreciate and enjoy the gifts in being a woman. 
Because of you, I know the value of a day, the power in laughter and magic of a smile.


  1. I adore you Sarah. Your light and brightness make this world a better place - just like your mom.

  2. Thanks Ash. It's friends like you that make my bad days not so bad, and my good days even better!

  3. I love reading your blog. You inspire me to think more deeply and challenge myself to dream. I realized recently that I'm not taking steps to make my dreams a reality and indeed I've never really articulated my dreams. Indeed, I think there is a little fear there. Thank you for inspiring me to overcome that fear and allow myself to dream and realize them. One dream is to be a better friend :)

    Love you!

  4. Thanks Tash. That's really great to hear, because that's why I do it! I look forward to seeing what you dream up, and then hearing/seeing how it all unfolds :)