On Friday, July 10, 2020, I had to say goodbye to the first person who ever loved me. I wasn’t ready. She was fierce, opinionated, and strong. She was kind, compassionate, and courageous. She was a life-long learner and an avid reader and lover of jazz music. She was a great cook and always made sure there was more than enough food for gatherings of friends and family. She loved holidays, and decorating, and making lists. And in spite of living a decade in an abusive marriage, then working multiple jobs to raise three children on her own, she was always optimistic. She could create something from nothing by always saving things others might throw out. And there was never a birthday missed or a holiday celebration where sacred traditions and happy memories weren’t created.

She taught me to trust myself, to think deeply, to always have hope, and to seek good in all people and situations. She taught me to “look it up” when I didn’t know something (pre-internet) and to believe I was capable of achieving more. She taught me to love musicals and dancing shows and classic tv. She taught me to make great mashed potatoes and how to plan a party. She taught me to read, and to keep reading, and to tell stories, and to push through. She taught me to be a feminist, to stand up for myself, and to take chances. She taught me that God is not a man. She taught me that travel is an antidote to ignorance and that having an open heart and an open mind would serve me well in life. She taught me to love and trust God, to love and encourage others, and to know that I (like her) can do hard things.

I will miss her and think of her and be grateful for her every day for the rest of my days. I will cherish the memories and do my best to leave a legacy of hope and courage.

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