I finally get it. The “fuck cancer” T’s and memes and pins.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Of course I got it before. I’ve known people with cancer. Even relatives. But none like this. None where it came and ripped the heart out of my chest. None where it snuck into our lives and stole away one of the most beautiful souls ever.
Mom. Sister. Cousin. Teacher. Daughter. Friend. Athlete. Colleague. Coach. So much more.
Lisa, you and Lori were extensions of the three sisters in our house. The five girl cousins, with the two boys as male bookends: Ian, always the oldest, and Andy, a few years later. The play forts we built, bikes we rode, and of course, every single Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and birthday together. Six months older than me, we always celebrated your Boxing Day birthday with your Grandma Henderson…and tile rummy. There was always tile rummy! Crokinole at our house, tile rummy at yours.
It was always just us.
Those summers of our childhood and teens, spent in Outlook, living with Mummu, watching soap operas, and running down the crazy-steep snake path to the pool. So many sun-baking hours in the water. Half-and-half swirled soft ice cream cones just down from your house at the Red Wheel Inn. Sleepovers in Mummu’s basement. Running around and playing hide and seek in Mummu’s basement. Okay, pretty much everything happened in Mummu’s basement! Plus the sauna. The fact that we all have one in each of our houses means that the Finn still runs strong in our Pajunen veins.
God, did we all love that sport, although none of us ever came close to matching your skill. I was always so proud to tell people that you had the highest vertical jump in Canada for your age group that one year, and when you and Lori played Huskies, well, I still tell people about my two cousins who played two different Huskie sports! With your Jeux Canada Games team winning in 1989, it was so cool to see that you were all inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame this spring.
I loved to talk teaching when we got together. It feels like last October was so long ago, when we were chatting about taking on interns. And kids. And courses. And educational change lol. It was always obvious how much you loved being a teacher, and I know that you made a difference to so many kids and their families over the years.
You were an amazing mom. And wife. Just a wonderful, kind, hard-working family, with two wonderful, kind, and hard-working kids. And I feel absolutely gutted when I think how much they will miss you in their lives.
How much we will all miss you.
That was not enough. Not even close.
But when I think of all that you did with those 48, you spread so much joy and love and happiness to other people. Joy and love and happiness that will continue to spread because you lived.
There’s a song that I love that says, “Depth over distance every time, my dear. This tree of ours may grow tall in the woods, but it's the roots that will bind us here to the ground.”
The distance of time was not to be, but the depth of your life, lived to the fullest, has roots in so many different places and people. If we had to choose depth over distance, then depth it is.
Fuck it, depth it is.
Lisa, you will be treasured and remembered.
Today, I got to tell you that I loved you cousin. You kissed my cheek.
Tonight, you were gone.
You will always be a part of me, and I won’t ever, ever forget you.
“I've been sleepless at night, 'cause I don't know how I feel
I've been waiting on you just to say something real.
There's a light on the road, and I think you know
Morning is coming, and I have to go.
I don't know why,
I don't know why we need to break so hard.
I don't know why we break so hard.
But if we're strong enough
To let it in,
We’re strong enough
To let it go.
Let it all go, let it all go.
Let it all out now.”
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