Written for my sister in December 2017.
Since Brian asked me to do a Eulogy, I have tried several times over the past few days to write this. For once in my life, I found myself with writer’s block and at a loss for words. How do you sum up a person’s life in a few short paragraphs?
In our early years, Donna was my cousin, playmate, teammate, and friend. We would play hide and go seek with our other cousins on St. Louis St. We bowled together, and climbed trees in the cemeteries together with our cousin Nancy. We would play games Nancy told us to play (because she was older by 27 days) and make forts in the trees. In 5th grade we were classmates, I guess the school didn’t realize we were related and stuck Donna, Nancy, and me in the same class. They didn’t make that mistake twice. We had music classes together at school, much to Donna’s dismay. Donna could play the piano and flute amazingly while on the other hand, I really stunk. However, after class, when everyone’s ears were bleeding, walking back to class she would say to me, “you sounded a little better today. You’ll catch on.” I never did.
As adults we became sisters. We were pregnant together, shared our children’s milestones, laughed together, and held each other’s hands as her mom, my other mom, took her last breath. I don’t think either of us thought twice of the possibility that we wouldn’t grow old together, attend our kids’ weddings, and watch our grandbabies grow up.
But my original question was, how do you sum up a person’s life in a few moments?
The answer is: You don’t.
To each of us here, Donna touched us differently. She had a different title. Granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt. The list goes on endlessly. Her family wasn’t defined by blood, it was defined by the unconditional, selfless love she gave to everyone she held dear. She gave of herself without expecting anything in return. She forgave and didn’t hold grudges. She left her mark on everyone she knew. Even in the end, she thought more of the pain she would leave behind on those she loved than of her own pain.
Our lives will go on, but so will hers. We will see her in her children and grandchildren. Whom she loved so much. We will do what our relatives before us did for us as children, talk about those who passed before we were born. We will keep her memory alive because a piece of her burns in all of our hearts. She will be watching over us and waiting for us. Little things will happen in the course of a day that will trigger a happy memory. Stop and enjoy that moment, smile or cry if you need to. Take the time to enjoy little things and never be in a rush to get stuff done. Hug those you love and never take a day or a person for granted. That is who Donna was, keeping those she loved connected.
Take a moment now to hug the ones next to you that you love.