This past week it felt like my whole world came crashing down. Just three days before my 45th birthday, my business partner and best friend lost her long battle with cancer. Even though she had been fighting for years, when her husband called to tell me the news, it came as a huge shock. I simply couldn’t believe she was actually gone.
The days following the news of her passing, I dealt with my grief through a wide range of emotions. I will be delivering her eulogy at her funeral and looking over what I have written down about her got me thinking about how I am going to move forward from this. Vanessa was more than just a friend, she was my sister, a mentor, a soulmate. Friends like her really don’t come around that often, and I am so lucky to have known her like I did.
She always had this saying about how your legacy is not what you do day-to-day. It’s not being a manager or owning a store. But it’s in who you are at your core; how you show up each day and the actions you take and the purpose behind them. That is the thing that people will remember about you.
Vanessa was a mom, a wife, a member of her district’s school board, a paralegal at one time. But what I and many others will remember her for is her humour, her fierceness, the way she presented herself every single day and through any situation. She always fought for what was right and didn’t let anyone stand in her way. Loyal, brave, courageous. That is her legacy.
But that’s not to say she didn’t have her critics. When you know who you are and the things you want in life and feel strongly about something you fight hard for, you’re going to have some push back. But no matter how many people tried to tell her she was wrong or that she shouldn’t do something, she kept on fighting. And I personally think that we can learn so much from a person like that. When adversity hits or someone or something is standing in your way, that is the time to lean in even more on the things you believe, to embrace that adversity and say: How can I move past this? How can I push through until I see the things I want to happen, happen? Vanessa knew how to handle her adversities better than anyone I ever met. That’s not to say that she wasn’t afraid at times, to speak up and do what’s right. But she embraced it and let that carry her through.
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My heart is sad…for you, and all who called her friend and family. I’m a better person for having been in her workaday orbit. Please offer my condolences to all. And especially for yourself. Real, not covid, hugs to you. Be good to you. Vanessa’s legacy lives on in yours.