On October 17, 2012, my Mom passed away after an 11 year battle with cancer.
My life has changed drastically over the last two months but my love and adoration for my Mom has remained constant. I miss her and think about her every day and can’t help but feel a renewed sense of purpose in life. Her memory has filled me with hope and inspiration to go after my dreams and to not be afraid to take risks, as I know the worst failure I might experience will be nothing compared to the suffering that she experienced.
I have been asked a few times to share the Eulogy that I read at her funeral and today I felt inspired to share a glimpse at the type of person that my Mom was.
Thank you all so much for being here today. There were few things that made my Mom as happy as being surrounded by the people she loved and cared for – I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor her life than by having each of you here today.
Susan was the type of person whose warmth and energy filled every room that she stepped into. She had so much enthusiasm for life and seized every opportunity to share and spread her joy with those around her. Whether she acted as a Team Mom or a Chaperone, a Friend or a Trusted Advisor, I know everyone here has experienced my Mom’s exuberant nature and understands the impact she made in the communities that she was a part of. Through her lighthearted outlook on the world, her way of being honest in a way that didn’t make you hate her and of course her booming laugh, she touched so many people’s lives in the time she shared with us.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how my Mom impacted my life and have realized that it is nearly impossible to untangle my own story from her story. She is so much a part of me that it’s difficult to separate the things I’ve learned from her from those that I’ve picked up on my own. The favorite pieces of my personality are those which I admired most about and learned from her. She taught me to love the world and to find the things in it that inspire me. “From there”, she would tell me, “the rest is easy”. My mom showed me how to see the lighter side of life and how to stay mindful of my priorities. “It’s easy to let your world get small and your problems get big”, she told me, “but in those moments it is especially important to remember how grand the world actually is.”
My Mom wanted Charlotte and I to benefit as much as possible from the lessons that she learned on her journey and as we got older she took every opportunity to teach us about life. She was my spiritual mentor and taught me more about myself than I have any capacity to explain. The strength and courage she demonstrated in the face of her biggest fears acts as a measure of the type of person I aspire to be.
The most important lesson I have learned from my Mom is something she didn’t get to share with me but that she gave me the the chance to learn on my own. When her sickness took a turn for the worse in March, I had the chance to spend a lot of time with her at the hospital. I remember distinctly one day that stood out from the rest. It was a Wednesday and had shaped up to be one of the more difficult days for all of us. Mom was having a very difficult time facing the reality of what we then realized was an inoperable, aggressive and rare form of cancer. We cried together until there were no more tears to share and I whispered to her something she had told me many times in the past: “Mom, we can’t always control what happens in life. The only things we can control are what we do and how we react to them.”
We both sat silent for a moment and then decided to make it outside and explore the beautifully kept grounds at the hospital. After a few minutes she built up enough strength for me to take her outside for the first time in weeks to do little more than sit, breathe and watch the wind move through the trees. She even managed to pull out an iconic Susan smile and flash the peace sign.
In that moment 24 years of life lessons all seemed to click as so many “Mom-isms” came together in an expression of pure joy and understanding. Anything that might have mattered seconds before melted away in favor of simply enjoying our time together. For the first time, I had moved from being the one receiving her advice to the one giving it. Once again, my Mom had changed my life.
One of the most difficult things for me to cope over the last few days has been the concept of my Mom’s physical absence from my life. Though I had grown used to not seeing her everyday and her ability to be a huge part of my daily life lessened as she became more ill, there was still an enormous amount of comfort in having my Mom – Mommy – here with us. I know that I will likely feel that for the rest of my life but I find great comfort in knowing that she is with me in every laugh, smile and moment of joy I will experience.
My Mom is the type of person whose life you can’t help but celebrate – I know that if she were here today she would be the first to remind us to fill our hearts with the joyous memories of our time with her rather than the loss that has brought us all here. With that let us remember all that we have to be thankful for in life and take the day to celebrate my Mom’s wonderful legacy. Thank you.