I am extraordinary fortunate for many reasons and one of them is that I got to be a lucky niece to one of the kindest and most generous women ever.
My Aunt Donna may have died a week ago, but her love, grace and ferocious optimism remain.
She is ever present and will always be in our hearts and minds, and most definitely remain a huge part of my brilliant cousins... her three remarkable daughters who are so much like their mom.
It was important to Donna that everyone who loved her understood that she never ever, ever, gave up. More than anything she wanted more time to be with her family... to live longer and to love more.
She did whatever she could to stay, and kept on getting braver and braver until she made the most courageous choice of all.
She chose her to change her course and to live her final weeks on her own terms.
And she did just that. She died as she lived, in her home, where she felt most peaceful, surrounded by her family and the blessings of those she loved the most.
While she was home, she received pages of notes and emails from those who she touched during her life. The letters were of gratitude and appreciation to Donna for sharing herself in so many ways.
Many many people reached out to thank her for giving so much of herself and for making a positive difference in their own lives.
She received messages from those who loved her deeply as well as those who knew her less well, but were touched and moved for the better by something that she said or did.
True to her humility, Donna was surprised by the number and intensity of these messages, she didn't realize that she had made such a difference in the lives of so many.
But she did and will continue to do so because she was a teacher in the most honest definition of the word. She taught by example, the power of kindness and encouragement, and all those who followed her example will continue to do so in her honor.
She believed that everyone had tremendous capability to do wonderful things and with a little bit of encouragement, and a few kind words, everyone was completely capable of great success.
My Aunt Donna did everything just right and the celebration of her life was indeed, exactly right.
A beautiful celebration of life and love.
Donna's fingerprints were on every part of her service. She chose the Celebrant, a warm and lovely woman who listened and understood. And she asked that her favorite James Taylor song be played...You Can Close Your Eyes. She requested that instead of flowers, donations be made to a charity that benefits children...as she strongly believed in the hope and future of the very young.
She also very kindly suggested that we please not wear black.
We all listened, and the room was overflowing and more than full of happy spring colors.
Easter colors of springtime hope and grace and renewal.
And it was more than fitting that the closing words of the service were her signature message of
"Love You, Love You, Love You..."
because for Donna, one "Love You" was good, but three were far better.
Donna in color at a family party with her adoring team of sisters.