"Congratulations!" my new friend, Karen, said as she handed me a dozen pink roses. She droppng her son at my son's 6th birthday party; I didn't understand. "It's Lili's idea" she said. I was confused. The only Lili, I knew - barely, had died of pancreatic cancer almost two weeks ago. She recognized that I was lost and went on to say that at Lili's memorial service last week (the one that I missed because I was out of town for a team tennis tournament) someone stood up to tell of Lili giving flowers to the mom when she dropped her son at a birthday party. How beautiful, I thought. Her legacy lives on. It brought tears to my eyes. I was celebrating my son's birthday, one that Lili's own son couldn't attend as he was away for an out of town memorial service. It just didn't seem right. But then I moved on. I "stayed in the moment" of the birthday celebration, soaking it all in. Her husband, just weeks ago, had sent out an email encouraging us all to do the same. So I did.
After the memorial service, we (all of us who volunteered to help this family) received this email from a hospice worker:
Dear Tiffiny and Lili's Team,
You all are magnificent! It was very moving to hear your tributes to Lili..and to see your demonstration of love in action. I only got to know her near the very end and once the team had formed, chose to remain in the background and not overwhelm the family with another stranger. When I met her, I was (of course) struck by her enormous eyes and great physical beauty. When I heard you speak of her, I realized what a remarkable spirit she was/is and why so many of you came together to help her and to celebrate her. It is apparent what a shocking loss you are all experiencing and it is also very clear what a gift Lili was to each of you.
Your team moved with such coordinated grace, making sure that all of her needs were met... and that the boys were lovingly cared for throughout this time. You formed a community that nurtured each of you as well as the family. That was apparent during the service on Saturday...your tenderness toward each other is a wonderful legacy. Throughout your lives, you will remember this journey - walking with each other, holding Lili. Even though it was very difficult and painful, you held her through her dark nights and stayed faithful to the end. You have amazing courage and deep abiding love.
I thank you for coming together. It was so inspiring to walk in the room for our first meeting and see 30 people there! You all are GREAT!! You did this as if you have always done it, as if you have always known how to come together as a community to care for one of your own. You have much to teach the world.
If there is ever anything I can do to support you all, please call me.
Thanks for being on the journey with me, too.
She was only 34 years old but so many learned so much from her and her illness, including me. I'm grateful our paths crossed, even though ever so briefly. I am better for it.